Two thousand miles from Sochi, Russia, where the Grand Prix Final is taking place today and the Winter Olympics will take place 14 months from now, Olympic champion Yuna Kim made an emphatic return to competition, winning short program at the NRW Trophy in Dortmund, Germany.
RESULTS: NRW Trophy ladies' short
If there were any doubts about her preparedness, if there were thoughts about her starting it easy with a watered down program, they were all but dashed today. Kim not only skated a clean short program but also hit the most difficult jump combination, a triple lutz-triple toe, currently being attempted by anyone in the ladies' event. It was her trademark element and remains solid today.
Kim completed her short program with a double axel and a triple flip, the jump that started to give her problems during and after the Olympic season three years ago. The judges rewarded her with a sky-high 72.27, the highest short program score recorded this season.
So who did she eclipse with that score? None other than old Japanese rival Mao Asada, who had a 67.95 at NHK Trophy, and potential American rival Ashley Wagner, who earned a 66.44 just yesterday at the Grand Prix Final. Comparing scores cross-competition is tricky, and it won't be completely clear how the three stack up against each other until they are all competing on the same ice. That could happen as early as the Four Continents Championships next February or perhaps at the World Championships in March.
Either way, the intensity level in the ladies' competition just went way up. Kim's next, and more difficult, test happens tomorrow when she takes the ice for the free skate.
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