Placing third was 18-year-old Kanako Murakami (66.64), the 2010 world junior champion.
Japan’s Mao Asada, the only competitor with a personal-best remotely close to Kim’s, had the crowd clapping along from the outset of her sprightly program to Gershwin’s “I Got Rhythm.” She opened with a terrific triple axel but under-rotated a triple flip-double toe loop combination and stepped out of another jump. Her score (62.10) placed her sixth.
(MARK BLINCH/REUTERS) - Ashley Wagner of the U.S. performs during the Ladies Short Program at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships in London, Ontario, March 14, 2013. REUTERS/Mark Blinch (CANADA - Tags: SPORT FIGURE SKATING)
Kim, 22, was the 14th of 35 skaters to compete. It was an unfamiliar starting spot for the defending Olympic champion and 2009 world champion (starts roughly follow world rankings in inverse order) — the result of her ranking slipping during her break from competition.
In a smoky blue-gray dress, Kim was more emotive than she had been during practice earlier this week and landed all of her jumps, opening with a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination and following with a triple flip. While she was penalized for taking off on the wrong edge of her blade on her second jump, Kim created the overall impression of an artist in full command.
Gold, who confessed she has idolized Kim since 2009 but has yet to summon the nerve to ask for a photograph together, critiqued the Korean’s performance eloquently.
“It’s just one program, [but] even if she does stop skating, it’s as if the feeling of the program keeps going,” Gold said, asked what she admitted about Kim. “Going into every jump, you kind of know she’s going to hit it, and you’re just waiting to see it. The things that I struggle with—that confidence. It just looks like she trusts herself so much.”
Skating note: Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White, the 2011 world champions in ice dance, took a commanding lead after what White called “a dream skate” in their short program, earning 77.12 points. Their longtime rivals, defending Olympic and world champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, were second (73.87), and Russia’s Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev were third (70.05). All three American duos placed among the top eight, with Madison Chock and Evan Bates seventh (66.74) and siblings Maia and Alex Shibutani eighth (66.14).