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Kim wins women's world figure skating title

LONDON, Canada (AFP) –

Kim Yu-Na performs during the women's free skating event at the World Figure Skating Championships on March 16, 2013

Kim Yu-na performs during the women’s free skating event at the World Figure Skating Championships in Canada on March 16, 2013. Kim scored 148.34 points for her masterful “Les Miserables” free skate, which opened with a flawless triple lutz-triple toe loop jump combination.

Reigning Olympic champion Kim Yu-na set herself up as a contender to win back-to-back Olympic gold medals with a runaway women’s victory at the World Figure Skating Championships.

The South Korean superstar left the field in her wake Saturday as she delivered a second picture-perfect performance in her return to International Skating Union (ISU) competition after a two-year hiatus.

“It has been a while since I competed in a big competition like worlds,” Kim said through a translator. “I was really nervous in warm-up but I skated last and I had time to calm myself down.”

Kim scored 148.34 points for her masterful Les Miserables free skate, which opened with a flawless triple lutz-triple toe loop jump combination and brought the cheering crowd to its feet 10 seconds before she wound down her final spin.

“I’ve been competing at worlds since 2007 and had both good and bad memories,” Kim said. “This one was emotional because I was thinking it could be my last one. But because I delivered good results, I’m very happy.”

Kim amassed a total of 218.31 points to take the world crown ahead of 2012 titleholder Carolina Kostner of Italy, who finished her 11th worlds with 197.80 to stand second.

Carolina Kostner (L), Kim Yu-na (C) and Mao Asada at the World Figure Skating Championships on March 16, 2013

Gold medalist Kim Yu-na (C), silver medalist Carolina Kostner (L) and bronze medalist Mao Asada are pictured at the World Figure Skating Championships in Canada on March 16, 2013. Kim amassed a total of 218.31 points to take the world crown ahead of Kostner.

Also on Saturday, Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White won the world ice dance title, defeating Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, the reigning Olympic and 2012 world champions.

Kostner committed two major errors, including a fall on her final triple jump, in her enchanting Bolero routine, but it was a valiant effort after suffering a nose bleed just as she was called to take her starting position.

Intermittently throughout her programme, droplets of blood splattered onto the ice.

“It was not easy because the blood was running out of my nose the whole programme,” Kostner said. “I think I can be proud of myself and very pleased how it turned out.”

Kostner scored 131.03 points for the free skate routine and finished 1.33 points ahead of Japan’s Mao Asada, who climbed from sixth place after the short programme into third overall.

Asada’s ethereal performance to Swan Lake earned 134.37 points. She opened with her trademark triple Axel but had to land on two feet to keep her balance.

“Going into this I wanted to execute everything I do in practice, but I couldn’t make the triple Axel and triple-triple (jump combination) and really hated that I missed that,” Asada said through a translator.

Kanako Murakam performs during the women's free skate at the World Figure Skating Championships on March 16, 2013

Japan’s Kanako Murakam performs during the women’s free skating program at the World Figure Skating Championships on March 16, 2013. Murakami finished just off the podium with 189.73 points, one step up the ladder from her fifth place result last year.

“But I was able to change my mindset quickly and enjoy the second half of my programme.”

Until Saturday, the 2008 and 2010 world champion had been undefeated in ISU events this season.

Another Japanese skater, Kanako Murakami, finished just off the podium with 189.73 points, one step up the ladder from her fifth place result last year.

Besides aspiring to establish their status as frontrunners for the 2014 Sochi Olympic podium, competitors at these championships also determine how many entries each nation will be allowed for next year’s Winter Olympics.

South Korea, Japan and the United States earned the maximum three entries for women with their results at the meet while US, Canada and Russia ice dancers booked the maximum three Olympic berths in their discipline.

Davis and White are training partners of Virtue and Moir and they have traded first and second over the course of the past four worlds. With a huge gap over their rivals, the stage is set for them to battle for gold at Sochi.

“We’re absolutely thrilled, not only winning, but putting out a performance we’re really thrilled with and proud of,” Davis said. “That makes it that much more enjoyable.”

The American duo led wire to wire for a total of 189.56, with free dance and total scores surpassinbg their own previous personal bests.

Virtue and Moir finished with 185.04 overall with a strong performance of their sultry and provocative Carmen programme. Russians Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev were third on 169.19.

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