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Category: Mao Asada

No tears, but Nagasu still must get past fears


At least there was no big crying jag for Mirai Nagasu this time.

Nagasu has made substantial overall improvement since that episode at November's Cup of China, yet she still must learn to cope with what caused it: the pressure of being first after the short program at an international competition. Call it fear of flying high.

As Mao Asada of Japan won her second world title in three seasons, helped by a second straight badly flawed performance by reigning Olympic champion Kim Yuna of South Korea, short program winner Nagasu came undone in the free skate Saturday at Turin, Italy.

The 16-year-old from Arcadia, Calif., made three significant errors and plummeted to 7th overall with an 11th in the free skate. "Coming off the Olympics, where I was fourth, finishing seventh here is a really big blow," Nagasu said. "I feel really bad." Reigning U.S. champion Rachael Flatt was 9th, four places below her 2009 finish.

Nagasu's coach, Frank Carroll, had insisted she shed "no more tears'' after the China event, when she dropped to 5th after the free skate. Despite some snuffling in her voice, Nagasu kept a mostly stiff upper lip in an interview with Universal Sports after Saturday's poor performance.

Prior to Saturday, she had put together five straight strong performances -- three short programs, two free skates -- at major events: the U.S. Championships, Olympics and worlds. That was big step up from last season, when a growth spurt, a foot injury and teenage angst left her a very tearful fifth at nationals -- a year after her surprising U.S. title at age 14 -- and prompted the coaching change that brought her to Carroll. 

She always has been hard on herself, and Saturday was no exception. "I told myself last year that I wouldn't feel like this any more, so it's really a bummer to feel like this again," Nagasu said. "It took a lot to get me out of the pits last year, and I sort of feel like I'm there again now. I'm going to go home and try to get ready for next season and just take it one step at a time." 

Nagasu started badly in the free skate, with a stepout on her first triple lutz that kept her from doing a combination. Then she had a two-footed landing on her second triple lutz, which was downgraded to a double, and a fall on a double axel, which was called a single.  Her final planned triple, an easy toe loop, also was downgraded.

"Sorry," Nagasu said to Carroll after coming off the ice. An hour later, she was trying to talk a U.S. figure skating official into going for ice cream at a nearby mall. The only positive about the free skate came in the component (or artistry) scores, where Nagasu ranked a more presentable 6th. 

Kim's chances of retaining her 2009 world title disappeared when she botched two of her final three jumps. Kim's score, 130.49, was nearly 20 points below the record total (150.06) she amassed in her Olympic victory last month. It was good enough to win the free skate, but well short of overcoming the eight-point lead Asada had over Kim after the short program, when the South Korean made mistakes on three different elements.

Asada, the Olympic silver medalist, finished with 197.58 to 190.79 for Kim. Extremely generous scoring for a program filled with double jumps (eight doubles to just three triples) gave Laura Lepisto 178.62, allowing her to hang onto third by .8 over Japan's Miki Ando and become the first Finnish woman to win a world medal. HugDamienMeyerGettyNagasu had 175.48, Flatt, 167.44.

Kim fell on a triple salchow and popped a double axel.  She also lacked spark throughout the 4-minute program. "My short program and the morning practice was not good, and I was worried," Kim said. "I am glad I was able to overcome the difficulties."

Kim's free skate score was still more than respectable. Only three other women (Asada, Joannie Rochette and Sasha Cohen) have scored higher. Kim, 19, said she would wait until after taking a break before deciding about competing next season. She was the first woman to skate at worlds in the same season she won the Olympic title since Kristi Yamaguchi of the U.S. in 1992.

Upon arriving in Turin, Kim said she had struggled with finding the motivation for worlds. "The Olympic Games were the biggest goal in my life," Kim said Saturday. "After winning the gold medal, I thought there was nothing more." 

Asada was second in 2007, first in 2008, then fourth last year, when Kim began to dominate the women's competition. "It has been a long time that I felt I had to work harder because of her (Kim)," Asada said. "Thanks to her, I grow as a skater, and I will be encouraged to work harder even from now on."

Asada, 19, gave every indication she will continue competing.  She is looking for a new coach after two seasons with Russia's Tatiana Tarasova.

-- Philip Hersh

Top photo: A dejected Mirai Nagasu, with coach Frank Carroll, after hearing her free skate scores. Credit: Clive Rose / Getty Images. Bottom photo: World champion Mao Asada of Japan congratulates silver medalist Kim Yuna of South Korea before the medal presentation Saturday. Credit: Damien Meyer / Getty Images

Kim loses world title to Asada; Nagasu falls to seventh


Kim Yuna's chances of retaining her world title disappeared when she botched two of her final three jumps in Saturday's free skate at Turin, Italy. Japan's Mao Asada took the title for the second time in three years.

And short program leader Mirai Nagasu of the U.S. came undone, dropping all the way to seventh in the final standings after a free skate with three major errors.

Nagasu was only 11th in the free skate.

Kim's free skate score, 130.49, was nearly 20 points below the record total (150.06) the South Korean amassed in her Olympic victory last month.

Asada overtook Kim in the overall score. Asada was lower in the free skate. Asada had a total score of 197.58 to 190.79 for Kim.  Laura Lepisto was third, becoming the first Finnish woman to win a medal at worlds.

Kim, 19, fell on a triple salchow and popped a double axel.  She also lacked spark throughout the 4-minute program.

As she came off the ice, her coach, Brian Orser, said, "You got through it.  Don't worry about it."

Kim's free skate score still was more than respectable.  She had only 111.70 at Skate America last fall, and only three other women (Asada, Joannie Rochette and Sasha Cohen) ever had scored higher than 130.49 going into Saturday's action.

But Kim had finished just seventh in the short program Friday with the third lowest score of her senior career, 10 points behind Nagasu and 8 behind Asada.  Kim botched a jump, a spin and a spiral in the short program.

"I'm sorry,'' Nagasu said to her coach, Frank Carroll, as she left the ice.

Nagasu started badly, with a stepout on her first triple lutz that kept her from doing a combination.  Then she had a two-footed landing on her second triple lutz and fell on a double axel.  She finished at 175.48.

U.S. champion Rachael Flatt was 9th, four places below her 2009 finish.

Kim is the first woman to compete at worlds in the same season she won the OIympic title since Kristi Yamaguchi of the U.S. in 1992.

Earlier this week, Kim said she had struggled with finding the motivation to compete at worlds.

-- Philip Hersh

Figure skating trumps 'American Idol', and NBC's Scott Hamilton cries

For the second time in two weeks, the previously untouchable "American Idol" television show on Fox was beaten by NBC's Olympic coverage Thursday night. That coverage included Americans Billy Demong and Johnny Spillane going 1-2 in a Nordic combined event, the men's aerials and, most importantly, the long program for the ladies in figure skating.

During the 8-9 p.m. hour, when the Olympics went head-to-head with "Idol," NBC averaged 19.2 million viewers to Idol's 17.8, according to the Nielsen ratings. NBC averaged 22.9 million viewers on the night. The top group of six skaters featuring eventual gold medalists Kim Yuna as well as silver medalist Mao Asada; Canada's Joannie Rochette, who won bronze only five days after her mother died of a heart attack in a Vancouver, Canada, hotel room; and 16-year-old American Mirai Nagasu, who skated the best long program of her life to move from sixth to fourth.

In a statement, Dick Ebersol, chairman of NBC Universal Sports and Olympics, said the win over "American Idol" was unexpected. "I never thought we would have the good fortune to beat the incredibly well-produced and enduring phenomenon of 'American Idol' even once," Ebersol said. "But twice?...We are happy to rent 'Idol's' space for a few nights."

And it turns out the hour when NBC beat "Idol" was its least-watched hour of the night (so it doesn't take a genius to figure out where "Idol" viewers turned when their show was finished). The Olympics' two wins over "Idol" are the first time any program has beaten the talent-finding show since May 17, 2004.

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Kim Yuna coasts to gold medal in women's figure skating

Yuna2_300 Kim Yuna got the big victory in her back-and-forth rivalry with Mao Asada of Japan.

Yuna scored a staggering 150.06 points in the free program Thursday night and coasted to a gold medal in women's figure skating with a total of 228.56 points.

Asada won the silver with a score of 205.50 points. 

Crowd favorite Joannie Rochette of Canada won the bronze with 202.64 points.

U.S. skaters Mirai Nagasu and Rachael Flatt finished fourth and seventh, respectively.

But all the talk was of Kim and Asada.

“Having these two women fairly close and skating well and creating this rivalry that's been there in the past ... it's just good for the audience,” Brian Orser, Kim's coach, said. “It will keep everybody on the edge of their seats. It's exciting, and it's exciting for Yuna.”

-- Houston Mitchell

Photo: Kim Yuna performs a spin during her free skate on Thursday night. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Women's figure skating short program results

In setting a world record for a short program, Kim Yuna equaled or bested the scores of her two closest competitors in six of eight required elements, plus the program component category.

Kim Yuna of South Korea leads after women's figure skating short program


Kim Yuna of South Korea leads after the short program of the women's figure skating event on Tuesday at the Vancouver Olympics. Yuna, who skated to a James Bond medley, scored 78.50 points.

Mao Asada of Japan is in second place with 73.78 points after she skated to the "Waltz Masquerade" by Aram Khatchaturian.

Canada's Joannie Rochette, whose mother passed away unexpectedly of a heart attack on Sunday, received a lengthy standing ovation after she finished. She skated to "La Cumparsita" and received 71.36 points, putting her in third place.

Miki Ando of Japan skated to "Requiem" by Mozart and finished with 64.76 points, good for fourth place.

Rachael Flatt of the U.S., skating to "Sing Sing Sing," is in fifth place with 64.64 points

Mirai Nagasu of the U.S., skating to the "Pirates of the Caribbean" soundtrack, is in sixth place with 63.76 points. Her nose started bleeding midway through her performance.

“Halfway there I felt stuff running down my nose and thinking ‘don’t think about it just keep going.’ My performance tonight wasn’t as good as nationals, I’m a little disappointed but I think the next Olympics I’ll know how to feel.”

-- Houston Mitchell in Vancouver, Canada

Photo: Kim Yuna of South Korea competes during the short program Tuesday night. Credit: Richard Mackson / U.S. Presswire


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