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U.S. skater Mirai Nagasu wins world short program; Olympic champ Kim Yuna finishes in seventh place [Updated]

March 26, 2010 | 10:10 am

A month ago, as the Olympics ended, I wrote a blog saying the most enduring memory I would take from Vancouver was a vision of Mirai Nagasu as the next Olympic champion.

On Friday, the 16-year-old from Arcadia, looked like just that. With a stunning performance in the short program at the World Championships in Turin, Italy, Nagasu finds herself in first place with 70.40 points going into Saturday's free skate.

Even more stunning, she took a 10-point lead over Olympic champion and reigning world champion Kim Yuna of South Korea, who had problems on a triple flip jump, totally botched part of her spiral sequence and wound up in seventh place with 60.30 points, 18 fewer than her world record score in Vancouver.

[Updated at 11:02 a.m.: It was undoubtedly the worst short program performance of Kim's career at the senior level, given her usual excellence, although she had lower scores twice before, at the 2008 worlds and 2007 Cup of China. Kim got no credit for one of her spins, and level 1-- of a possible 4 -- for the spiral with a negative grade of execution.]

Nagasu's score -- five points better than her 2-year-old personal-best short program -- gave her a lead of 2.32 points over Olympic silver medalist Mao Asada of Japan.

U.S. champion Rachael Flatt was sixth with 60.88 points, having done a triple-double for her opening combination instead of a planned triple-triple.

Asada lost nearly five potential points when her triple axel was downgraded to a double, meaning it was only a double axel-double toe combination. That mistake accounted for the difference between her score Friday (68.08) and the 73.78 she had scored last month in Vancouver, where she became the first woman to land a triple axel in an Olympic short program.

"I was a little bit tired, but tomorrow I will be stronger,'' Asada said. Her countrywoman, 2007 world champion Miki Ando, fared far worse, falling on the opening jump of her combination en route to an 11th-place performance.

Nagasu, fourth at the Olympics, upped the ante with a triple-triple on the opening combination of a third-straight strong short program performance, following those at the U.S. Championships and the Olympics.

-- Philip Hersh  

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