LONDON, Canada — Gracie Gold is plainly reverential toward Yuna Kim, whom the 17-year-old Gold came to idolize in the two years leading up to Kim's victory at the 2010 Olympics.
It makes no difference that she now is Kim's competitor. This was Gold's first encounter with Kim, and she was excited and a little intimidated in the South Korean's presence.
Gold would be too busy with her own preparations for Thursday's short program at the Figure Skating World Championships to catch anything but the end of Kim's performance. By then, Kim had shown exactly what Gold admires so much about her skating.
"There is that smoothness she has on the ice ... how it is one [uninterrupted] program," Gold said.
Even if the judges dinged Kim for a wrong edge takeoff on a triple flip and sloppy execution of one spin, Kim's 69.97 gave her a deserved first place.
She is 3.11 ahead of reigning world champion Carolina Kostner of Italy, who got generous marks for a program that included a fall. Japan's Kanako Murakami was third at 66.64, with U.S. champion Ashley Wagner fifth at 63.98, Gold ninth at 58.85 and two-time world champion Mao Asada of Japan sixth at 62.10.
The two U.S. women need to improve only one place between them after Saturday's free skate to gain their country a third entry for the 2014 Olympics.
In the short dance portion of the ice dancing competition, Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White, the reigning world and Olympic silver medalists, outclassed their Canadian rivals, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, the reigning world and Olympic champions. The U.S. pair leads 77.12 to 73.87 going into Saturday's free dance.