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But if Kim was feeling the heat, she didn't let it show.
"I didn't think that this is the Olympics or I have to be perfect," said Kim, who trains in Toronto and competed in Vancouver a year ago. "It wasn't that special a feeling, it was the same as other competitions. So I was very comfortable, like the other competitions."
Skating right after Asada, Kim showed no reaction when she heard her rival's marks. When the rowdy cheers finally faded, she simply took her spot at the end of the rink, slowly unfurled one arm, cocked her index finger like a gun and turned her head to give the judges a sly, seductive smile.
"It was perfect that she skated right after Mao," Orser said, "because she's a competitor. She's very fierce."
Kim doesn't have Asada's triple axel -- few women in the world do -- but her jumps are no less impressive. She goes into them full speed and her triple lutz-triple toe combination was done with perfect timing and smoothness, like a rock skipping across the water. Her spins show so much flexibility they'd make Gumby green with envy.
But what makes her so captivating is her presentation. Anyone who complains that figure skating has lost its sizzle hasn't seen Kim skate. She played the Bond Girl to the hilt, rubbing her hand up one thigh while she was in front of the judges, fixing them with a flirtatious look.
When she saw her marks -- 2.22 points better than her previous record -- she gave an easy smile as if she expected it all along.
"It was a really good vehicle for her, because she likes to skate a character piece, especially for the short program because it can be such a nerve-racking experience," Orser said. "She likes to show off. She certainly did, she was beautiful."
Asada's program was in sharp contrast to Kim's, playful and light. The highlight was, of course, that triple axel, which she did in combination with a double toe. The jump is so difficult few women even try it, yet Asada rips it off like it's a single. She's not just a jumping bean, though.
She was so in tune with her "Masquerade Waltz" that, during her footwork sequence, she did a little hop and an illusion -- swooping her head and torso down while her leg is kicking up -- just as the music lifted. She beamed during her spiral sequence, which seemed to go on forever.
Asada clasped her hands together and hopped up and down when she finished, giving the cheering crowd a slight bow as she left the ice. She looked stunned when her marks were announced, turning to coach Tatiana Tarasova as if to say, "Is that good?"
"I was nervous at the beginning but then I realized I'm here at the Olympics and I'm skating," Asada said. "That made me very happy and confident."
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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