MANILA, Philippines – The figure skating ladies short program at the Sochi Winter Olympics takes place on Wednesday, February 19. The final event of the figure skating program at these Olympics is also the most anticipated event.
30 ladies from 20 countries compete for coveted Olympic title but only one of 2 women will win it.
KIM YU NA
22 year-old Kim Yuna from South Korea is defending Olympic Champion and two time World Champion. She holds the world record for short program (78.50), long program (150.06) and combined total (228.56) – all set at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
After winning the Olympics, Kim Yu Na stepped away from the competitive Grand Prix circuit.
After a long absence Yuna competed at the 2013 World Championships with 2 clean programs. She won with a 20.42 margin, the largest in the history of the event. Her win marked her a clear favorite going into these Olympics.
But not all was smooth sailing after Worlds. Yuna skipped the rest of the 2013 season because of a foot injury. Her last competitive event prior to the Olympics was the 2014 Korean Nationals where she scored 80.60 in the short program, 147.62 in the long program – a combined total of 227.86. Her only mistake was singling a planned double axel at the end of her program.
If she wins she will be only the 3rd woman in history to win back-to-back ladies figure skating Olympic titles after Sonja Henie of Norway (1928, 1932 and 1936) and Katerina Witt of Germany (1984, 1988). Henie and Witt competed under a different scoring system and in a less competitive era. These days figure skating is about earning points from difficult jumps, spins and footwork sequences. The scoring system is similar to diving where moves are assigned base values and awarded grade of execution.
Yuna is an amazing skater, in terms of both technical skills and artistry. If she performs two clean programs there is nothing that will stop her from winning her second Olympic title.
2012 World Junior Champion, 15-year-old Julia Lipnitskaya was too young to compete at the Senior Worlds last year but otherwise had a stellar first year as a senior. She won all of her Grand Prix events and finished second to Mao Asada at the Grand Prix Finals in December 2013.
Lipnitskaya was only second at the Russian Nationals also in December 2013 but when 2014 came around she was unstoppable. She won the 2014 European Figure Skating Championships last January – the youngest woman to do so.
In Sochi, Lipnitskaya competed in the team events winning both the short (72.90) and long programs (141.41) carrying Russia to its first ever figure skating team gold medal. Both performances were the highest she has ever recorded. The win makes her the youngest figure skater to win an Olympic gold medal – she is 6 days younger than Tara Lipinski was when she won gold in Nagano in 1998.
Lipnitskaya is peaking at the right time. She’s skated on Olympic ice giving her an advantage going into Wednesday’s short program. The flexibility she achieves in her spins is unmatched, she is fearless and her jumps are almost robotic. A perfect Lipnitskaya might still need a little composite score boost to take down Queen Yuna but if Yuna falters and leaves the door open, the consistent and reliable Lipnitskaya will swoop in for a victory.
Also competing are two-time world champion Mao Asada of Japan, world champion Carolina Kostner of Italy, and Fil-Norwegian Anne Line Gjersem.