Yuna Kim stumbled out of one of three jumping passes in her competitive return from a foot injury but still posted her highest short program score since the Vancouver Olympics on Friday.
The Olympic and world champion earned a 73.37 at the Golden Spin of Zagreb in Croatia. That’s higher than any woman’s short program score during this Grand Prix season. Here’s video of the program. The free skate is Saturday.
She landed a triple-triple combination to open her “Send in the Clowns” skate in a yellow dress and added a triple flip before stepping out of her final jump, putting her hand on the ice on a double Axel.
No matter, she received a rousing standing ovation and applauded and smiled herself when the score was announced.
Japan’s Miki Ando was in second place with 62.81 with six skaters to go. Ando is the 2007 and 2011 world champion who gave birth in April.
A right foot injury had forced Kim to withdraw from two Grand Prix assignments earlier this fall. It was announced in late September that Kim, 23, would miss around six weeks.
She’s attempting to become the first womanto win back-to-back Olympic figure skating titles since Katarina Witt in 1984 and 1988.
It’s somewhat apples to oranges, but here’s Kim’s short program score compared to other Olympic medal threats from the Grand Prix Final and other competitions:
Yuna Kim (KOR) — 73.37 (Golden Spin) Mao Asada (JPN) — 72.36 (Grand Prix Final) Adelina Sotnikova (RUS) — 68.38 (Grand Prix Final) Ashley Wagner (USA) — 68.14 (Grand Prix Final) Carolina Kostner (ITA) — 67.74 (Rostelecom Cup) Yulia Lipnitskaya (RUS) — 66.62 (Grand Prix Final)
But Swiatek is not as dominant as in 2022, when she went 16-0 in the spring clay season during an overall 37-match win streak.
She retired from her most recent match with a right thigh injury last week and said it wasn’t serious. Before that, she lost the final of another clay-court tournament to Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.
Sabalenka, the No. 2 seed, and Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, the No. 4 seed and Wimbledon champion, are the top challengers in Paris.
No. 3 Jessica Pegula and No. 6 Coco Gauff, runner-up to Swiatek last year, are the best hopes to become the first American to win a Grand Slam singles title since Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open. The 11-major drought is the longest for U.S. women since Seleswon the 1996 Australian Open.
But the No. 1 seed is Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, who won last year’s U.S. Open to become, at 19, the youngest man to win a major since Nadal’s first French Open title in 2005.
Now Alcaraz looks to become the second-youngest man to win at Roland Garros since 1989, after Nadal of course.
Alcaraz missed the Australian Open in January due to a right leg injury, but since went 30-3 with four titles. Notably, he has not faced Djokovic this year. They could meet in the semifinals.
Russian Daniil Medvedev, who lost in the French Open first round in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020, is improved on clay. He won the Italian Open, the last top-level clay event before the French Open, and is the No. 2 seed ahead of Djokovic.
No. 9 Taylor Fritz, No. 12 Frances Tiafoe and No. 16 Tommy Paul are the highest-seeded Americans, all looking to become the first U.S. man to make the French Open quarterfinals since Andre Agassi in 2003. Since then, five different American men combined to make the fourth round on eight occasions.