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Yu-Na Kim Impressive in Season Debut

Miki Ando Slips into Second

Yu-Na Kim was the class of the ladies field at Skate America Saturday. She skated to an impressive lead after the short program segment of the event in Everett, Wash. Performing to "Danse Macabre," the South Korean wracked up an 11.70-point lead over the rest of the field, which include a trio of Americans.

Kim scored 69.50 points, well ahead of Japan's Miki Ando (57.80) and Yukari Nakano (57.46).

Kim, 18, landed the only triple-triple -- a triple flip-triple toe combination -- in the ladies short program. Her only mistake came when she faltered on the landing of her double Axel. "This is the first competition of the season, and since this was my first program, I was a little nervous," said Kim who is the two-time world bronze medalist. "I made one small mistake but was able to focus during the rest of the performance."

Skating to “Danse Macabre” by Camille Saint-Saens, Kim also naileda triple Lutz and pruduced a beatitiful spiral sequence. The 18-year-old produced strong spins and steps that were graded a level three.The two-time World bronze medalist earned 69.50 points (39.06 element score/30.44 program component score).

Japan's Miki Ando was second with 57.80 points. Ando, the 2007 World champion, attempted a triple Lutz-triple loop combination, but the loop was downgraded to a double. She also fell on her footwork sequence. Otherwise, she skated solidly and was pleased with her performance.

"I think I was ready for this competition," she said. "I knew I was skating well. " I'm happy I landed the triple-triple; I'm a little disappointed I fell on my footwork. That was a stupid mistake, but I enjoyed skating tonight and I feel so good."

Nakano’s program to “The Gadfly” by Dmitri Shostakovitch included a triple flip-double toeloop combination, a solid double Axel and two level-three spins. However, the 23-year old doubled the Lutz. She received 57.46 points (29.30/28.16). “I was nervous, but it didn’t cut the flow of the program,” she said.

U.S. champion Mirai Nagasu was in fourth while U.S. silver medalist Rachael Flatt was fifth.

2006 world champion Kimmie Meissner, who fell on a jump, was sixth. Missner won gold at this event last year.

THE PAIRS

As expected 2008 World champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany took gold at Skate America yesterday. U.S. pairs champions Keauna McLaughlin and Rockne Brubaker were impressive and claimed silver.

Savchenko and Szolkowy compiled an overall mark of 180.77 points to 172.69 for McLaughlin and Brubaker.
McLaughlin and Brubaker to earn the highest technical score (59.99) for a poignant skate to "West Side Story." Russians Maria Mukhortova and Maxim Trankov, who were first after the short program, placed third with 167.67.

In the long program, Savchenko and Szolkowy opened their intense program to “Schindler’s List” and “Adagio” with a triple toe-triple toe sequence followed by a triple twist. Szolkowy touched down with his hand on the side-by-side triple Salchow, but the lifts and the throw triple flip were solid again.

However, the couple popped the throw Salchow and their last element, the pair combination spin, didn’t receive any points as the skaters didn’t complete the required three revolutions after the change of foot. The side by side spin and the death spiral got a level four.

“The program this afternoon was a little better than the program last night,” Szolkowy said. “We made some mistakes and one big mistake on the throw.”

McLaughlin and landed a triple Salchow-double toeloop combination, a high triple twist, a triple throw loop and Salchow as well as a difficult lifts. Both spins were graded a level four, but the death spiral was a level one. One major error came when Brubaker doubled the side by side toeloop.

“Today’s skate definitely was a personal best for us so far this year. For me personally missing my jump is kind of bothering me, but something to work on and overall it was definitely a great skate, especially leading into Skate Canada next week. It is really a big confidence builder,” Brubaker said.

The reigning European silver medalists earned 101.35 points (46.91/57.44) and had 167.67 points overall. “For the short program we were quite ready and skated clean. The free program is still raw and you could see this. But we still have many competitions to come and a lot of work ahead of us,” Mukhortova said. “Being first in the short program wasn’t the problem but skating last was hard for us. We are not chasing after someone else. We just have to do a good job, but today we did a bad job.”

Meagan Duhamel and Craig Buntin (CAN) landed a triple toe-triple toe sequence in their “Tosca” program and finished fourth (159.80 points). Rena Inoue and John Baldwin (USA) were fifth. Inoue fell on the throw triple Axel (146.51 points).

[bPAIRS FINAL STANDINGS[/b]

1 Aliona SAVCHENKO / Robin SZOLKOWY GER (180.77)
2 Keauna McLAUGHLIN / Rockne BRUBAKER USA (172.69)
3 Maria MUKHORTOVA / Maxim TRANKOV RUS (167.67)
4 Meagan DUHAMEL / Craig BUNTIN CAN (159.80)
5 Rena INOUE / John BALDWIN USA (146.51)
6 Caitlin YANKOWSKAS / John COUGHLIN USA (141.70)
7 Adeline CANAC / Maximin COIA FRA (134.36)
8 Yue ZHANG / Lei WANG CHN (124.63)

ICE DANCE

It was a night for World champions to shine. Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder[/b] of France, who took the gold at the 2008 World Championships, had the best routine of the night with 96.75 points.

Skating a program, which was not all that well received by the judges, five-time U.S. ice dance champions Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto fell further behind the leaders.

Sinead Kerr and John Kerr, of Britain, had the best technical marks for their Lindy Hop and swing music and are third entering today's free dance finale.

Belbin and Agosto's tap-themed dance was ranked third, giving them a score of 95.10 and putting them in second place overall.


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