Yelim Kim breezed through a near-flawless short program to build the slimmest of leads over 15-year-old American rival Isabeau Levito on Thursday night at the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
The 20-year-old from South Korea, performing to the moody piano piece “Mercy,” was fluid through an opening triple lutz-triple toe loop before landing a double axel and triple flip. When her score of 72.84 points was read inside Broadmoor World Arena, Kim first expressed surprise, then clapped her hands and pumped her fists in delight.
It was a strong bounce-back performance for Kim, who struggled to a sixth place finish at the Grand Prix Final.
“I was so, so nervous before,” Kim said, “but I did an almost clean program and I am happy about that.”
Levito was second with 71.50 points, and she would have been within a point of the lead if not for a point deduction for a time violation. South Korea’s Chaeyeon Kim was third, followed by Americans Amber Glenn and Bradie Tennell.
The competition between non-European nations continues later Thursday with the men’s short program.
Levito, the new U.S. champion, has been a revelation in her first season of senior competition, finishing no worse than second anywhere she’s been, including a silver medal at the Grand Prix Final. Her performance to music by the Israeli singer-songwriter Yasmin Levy on Thursday night was almost balletic, with its easy opening triple flip, a double axel and a triple lutz-triple toe loop. The only mistake came in running over time, something Levito has been docked for in the past.
Levito declined to comment after her performance.
Glenn and Tennell were upbeat about their short programs, which have them within range of the podium. Glenn in particular was happy when, despite putting her hand down on her triple loop, she still scored 69.63 points.
“That’s great!” she said in the kiss-and-cry area. “OK!”
Tennell has been on the comeback from an ankle injury that sidelined her most of the season. She was second to Levito at nationals, though, and the former Four Continents bronze medalist was pleased with her showing Thursday night.
“I haven’t competed at Four Continents since 2020,” she said, “so coming back here and it being in my home country is really exciting for me. My focus is to skate more relaxed and with more freedom in my long program. I am so grateful to be here and perform. The hard part of this journey was getting back to this level. The past year was difficult. I didn’t start getting back into training until August. So to come here and put out a program like that, I am really proud of myself.”
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