|Kim Yu-na performs in the short program at the Golden Spin of Zagreb,held in Croatia on Friday. (Yonhap News)|
South Korean figure skater Kim Yu-na cruised to an overwhelming victory in her highly-anticipated season debut in Croatia on Saturday, despite committing an early mistake in her free skating program.
Kim scored 131.12 points in Saturday's free skate for a totalof 204.49 points to capture the Golden Spin of Zagreb at Dom Sportova arena in the Croatian capital. On Friday, she earned 73.37 points in the short program, the highest short program score by anyone this season.
The total score was the fifth highest in Kim's decorated career. She has now surpassed 200 points in her last three international competitions.
The easy win set Kim on the right track in her preparation for the Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia in February. The 23-year-old is the reigning Olympic gold medalist and two-time world champion, and will attempt to become only the third woman to repeat as the Olympic champion.
Kim has already said Sochi will be her last Olympics.
Miki Ando of Japan finished a distant second at 176.82 points.
Ando picked up 114.01 points in free skating on Saturday after earning 62.81 points in the short program a day earlier.
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva of Russia was third with 169.24 points.
She scored 110,43 points in free skating.
Kim reached the top of the podium despite a fall on her first
jump combination, triple lutz-triple toe loop, in the free skating routine, choreographed to a tango piece titled "Adios Nonino." She recovered to nail the rest of her jumps cleanly and execute smooth steps and spins.
This was the first event of the season for Kim, who in September suffered a foot injury that forced her to withdraw from two scheduled appearances during the International Skating Union (ISU) Grand Prix season in October and November. The unexpected setback threatened to derail Kim's preparations for Sochi, but she returned to dominate the field in Croatia this week.
Despite the convincing margin of victory, Kim said that she wasn't entirely happy with her performance on Saturday.
"It wasn't too bad for a first event of the season but I was shaky," Kim said. "I panicked after making a mistake on the very first jump, which is the most important one, and I was really tight the rest of the way. Be it jumps, spins or steps, I wasn't very smooth on many of them."
Kim admitted there is still room for improvement with her conditioning level, but added that she has enough time left until Sochi to work herself into top form. (Yonhap News)