The South Korean star Yuna Kim overcame a bout of nerves to put herself in prime position for the Olympic gold medal in women’s figure skating on Wednesday, after 15-year-old Russian sensation Julia Lipnitskaia fell on a triple flip and slipped down the rankings.
Nerves almost got the best of Kim in the short program, and her 0.28-point lead over the 17-year-old Russian Adelina Sotnikov is almost as slim as it could get. But Kim, with a snappy routine that had the crowd on its feet before she finished her final spin, showed she is still the favorite to win another title.
Italy’s Carolina Kostner, whose Ave Maria program is almost a religious experience for her, was just behind. Chicago’s Gracie Gold was fourth, within striking distance after overcoming a sense of stage fright.
Lipnitskaia, who won both programs in the team event to help the hosts take the gold, broke down in tears after her routine was marred by the fall. “This does not define her career or who she is as an athlete,” coach Eteri Tutberidze said through a translator. “She simply made a mistake. That’s all. It happens.”
When it happened, the crowd was stunned. And Kim had the lead, but barely, over Sotnikova.
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