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Korean diva Kim rules the ice

KIM Yu-na of South Korea won the women's singles program at the Four Continents in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Friday.

Kim, 18, wasn't perfect, but still finished with 189.07 points to top surprise silver medalist Joannie Rochette of Canada, who posted a score of 183.91 and chief rival Japan's Mao Asada, who moved from sixth to third with the night's best free skate.

The picture brightened for the Americans with Caroline Zhang's fourth-place finish, the best of a trio of United States skaters. Zhang's 171.22 topped teammates Rachael Flatt, who was seventh, and national champion Alissa Czisny, ninth. Czisny was downgraded on an early triple flip and bailed on two jumps of a three-jump combination.

Zhang may have been the best American at the Pacific Coliseum, site of next year's 2010 Olympics, but Flatt and Czisny will be representing the US at next month's world championships in Los Angeles because they finished higher at the nationals.

Zhang, 15, didn't seem to mind. "I'll use this for motivation," she said.

Asada, the defending world champion, scored high (176,52 total) despite flubbing her opening combination - a trademark triple axel and double toe loop became just a single axel. She landed her second triple axel.

"I just wanted to do it once, but I made a mistake on the first time, so I thought I would do it better on the second time."

Asada also doubled a triple toe loop. But the rest of her program, which included a triple flip-double toe loop-double toe loop, showed she can rally.

"There was no pressure," Asada said. "That was me in my best condition."

Kim and Asada, both 18, and perhaps Italy's Carolina Kostner are expected to duel for the world title and Olympic gold. At the Four Continents, Kim, third in the long program, seemed close to top form, despite wiping out on a triple loop early in the program and getting downgraded in a three-jump combination.

"I wanted to do a triple loop, but I missed it unfortunately," she said. "But the rest of the program was great."

Also, fresh off their US championship, Meryl Davis and Charlie White won the ice dancing title.

The American pair scored a 192.39, beating Canada's Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir on 191.81 in the test event for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

"Things have really been coming together for us this season, last season and the year before we were working on different aspects of our skating, and I think this season it all came together for us," Davis said. "We've been working really hard so we're pretty happy with our performance."

Americans Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates, the reigning world junior champions, won the bronze with 180.69.


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