Yuna Kim runs away with national title in South Korea

Yuna Kim
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Yuna Kim wasn’t happy with the final jump she had performed in front of her adoring home fans in South Korea Sunday – so she did another.

The reigning Olympic champion ran away with the South Korean Figure Skating Championships, but had popped a double Axel into a single at the end of the free skate, leaving the 23-year-old unsatisfied. So as her name was called for the medal ceremony, Kim skated out and performed a perfectly clean double Axel, showing her nation – and the world – that she’s determined to be ready for Sochi.

The Vancouver gold medalist racked up a score of 227.86 (which is not counted towards her personal bests because it is a national competition, not international), running away with the title in front of a sell-out crowd, most likely the last to see her compete domestically before she retires. See video of her free skate here.

Soyoun Park was second with a 178.17 and Haejin Kim third at 159.15.

Kim was graceful in her “Adios Nonino” tango piece, flowing from element to element. She opened with a triple Lutz-triple toe combination, but later struggled with her Axel combination and finally popped her last planned double Axel. The jump had given her some trouble at her comeback event in Croatia last month, as well.

Kim has skated sparingly since running away with the Olympic title in 2010 with a world-record skate, placing second at the 2011 World Championships before making a grand comeback in 2013, winning the World Championships by a safe margin.

A foot injury forced her out of the Grand Prix season this past year, meaning she’ll attempt to become the first skater to have foregone the major international circuit and still win an Olympic gold since the Grand Prix series was introduced in 1995.

2010 silver medalist Mao Asada is still seen as Kim’s top rival, though Asada was third at the Japanese National Championships two weeks ago and has struggled with her own Axel – the rare triple in ladies’ skating.

2012 world champion Carolina Kostner of Italy and American Ashley Wagner are also seen as medal contenders for the Sochi Games, as are Russian teenagers Adelina Sotnikova and Yulia Lipnitskaya.

The South Korean National Championships marked Kim’s final domestic competition for the 23-year-old, who has said she will retire following the Olympic Games next month.

Yuna Kim not preparing ‘special skills’ for Sochi Olympics

Correction: An earlier version of this article mistakenly stated that Yuna Kim has won nine national titles.

Mark McMorris breaks Winter X Games medals record with slopestyle gold

Mark McMorris
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Canadian snowboarder Mark McMorris broke his tie with American Jamie Anderson for the most Winter X Games medals across all sites, earning his 22nd medal, a slopestyle gold, in Aspen, Colorado.

On the final run of Sunday’s contest, McMorris overtook Norway’s Marcus Kleveland with back-to-back 1620s on the last two jumps. McMorris’ last three Aspen slopestyle titles were all won on his final run (2019, 2022).

“It’s something I never thought would ever come to me as a kid from Saskatchewan,” McMorris, 29, said on the broadcast. “Everything’s just been a bonus since I became a pro snowboarder.”

In a format introduced three years ago, athletes were ranked on overall impression of their best run over the course of a jam session rather than scoring individual runs.

McMorris won his record-extending seventh X Games Aspen men’s slopestyle title, one day after finishing fourth in big air.

“It just keeps getting crazier because I keep getting older,” he said. “People just keep pushing the limits, pushing the limits. Last night was such a downer, almost bums me out, like, dude, do I still have it? … To have one of those miracle wins where you do it on the last run and someone makes you push yourself, those are the best feelings.”

McMorris won slopestyle bronze medals at each of the last three Olympics and reportedly said last February that he was planning to compete through the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games.

Canadian Max Parrot, the 2022 Olympic slopestyle champion, is taking this season off from competition.

Anderson, a two-time Olympic snowboard slopestyle champion, is expecting her first child.

Later Sunday, U.S. Olympian Mac Forehand won men’s ski big air with a 2160 on his last run, according to commentators. It scored a perfect 50. Olympic gold medalist Birk Ruud of Norway followed with a triple cork 2160 of his own, according to commentators, and finished third.

Canadian skier Megan Oldham added slopestyle gold to her big air title from Friday, relegating Olympic champion Mathilde Gremaud of Switzerland to silver.

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Ilia Malinin wins U.S. Figure Skating Championships despite quadruple Axel miss

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One year ago, Ilia Malinin came to the U.S. Championships as, largely, a 17-year-old unknown. He finished second to Nathan Chen in 2022 and was left off the three-man Olympic team due to his inexperience, a committee decision that lit a fire in him.

After the biggest year of change in U.S. figure skating in three decades, Malinin came to this week’s nationals in San Jose, California, as the headliner across all disciplines.

Though he fell on his quadruple Axel and doubled two other planned quads in Sunday’s free skate (the most ambitious program in history), he succeeded the absent Chen as national champion.

Malinin, the world’s second-ranked male singles skater, still landed two clean quads in Friday’s short program and three more Sunday. He totaled 287.74 points and prevailed by 10.43 over two-time Olympian Jason Brown, a bridge between the Chen and Malinin eras.

“I think I was just not ready to deliver at that day,” Malinin, who was bidding to become the second man to land six quads in one program after Chen, said on NBC. “I was really so confident, I think I sort of overthought everything and tried to get ahead of myself. But I think it’s all right.”

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Full Results

Brown, a 28-year-old competing for the first time since placing sixth at the Olympics, became the oldest male singles skater to finish in the top three at nationals since Jeremy Abbott won the last of his four titles in 2014. As usual, he didn’t attempt a quad but had the highest artistic score by 9.41 points.

Brown’s seven total top-three finishes at nationals tie him with Chen, Michael WeissBrian Boitano, David Jenkins and Dick Button for the second-most in men’s singles since World War II, trailing only Todd Eldredge‘s and Hayes Jenkins‘ eight.

“I’m not saying it’s super old, but I can’t train the way I used to,” Brown said after Friday’s short program. “What Ilia is doing and the way he is pushing the sport is outstanding and incredible to watch. I cannot keep up.”

Andrew Torgashev took bronze, winning the free skate with one quad and all clean jumps. Torgashev, who competed at nationals for the first time since placing fifth in 2020 at age 18, will likely round out the three-man world team.

Japan’s Shoma Uno will likely be the favorite at worlds. He won last year’s world title, when Malinin admittedly cracked under pressure in the free skate after a fourth-place short program and ended up ninth.

That was before Malinin became the first person to land a quad Axel in competition. That was before Malinin became the story of the figure skating world this fall. That was before Malinin took over the American throne from Chen, who is studying at Yale and not expected to return to competition.

Malinin’s next step is to grab another label that Chen long held: best in the world. To do that, he must be better than he was on Sunday.

“You always learn from your experiences, and there’s always still the rest of the season to come,” he said. “I just have to be prepared and prepare a little bit extra so that doesn’t happen again.”

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