Talk about best for last! The women took the ice last night for the free program at figure skating in Vancouver and did not disappoint.

Korea’s Yu-Na Kim is the Olympic champion. She skated out to her position and you could just tell form her body language that this was going to be “her night”. What was absolutely mesmerizing in addition to her glorious program was her ability to reach out to the audience; frequently making eye contact and smiling in addition to performing all of those pesky triple jumps, spins and footwork sequences. What is interesting to note is that she smashed yet another score record and with her overall total of 228.56 points, she not only won the women’s event but she would have been top 10 in the men as well!

The Silver medallist from Japan; Mao Asada skated immediaely following Kim and had her work cut out for her. She was tentative to start with but was able to execute not only one but two triple Axels to get the ball rolling. This program skated to the Bells of Moscow was an interesting choice for her. On first look the contrast between her youth and the starkness of the piece seemed so incongruent as to be insurmountable. She got much closer to being able to really work this program at the 4 Continents Championships as it (and she) had really evolved over the season. The truth of the matter is though that there was not the same complexity that was found in Kim’s masterpiece and coupled with a couple of stumbles she settled for silver.

Canada’s 6 time national champion Joannie Rochette was in third place heading into the free and even with the heavy heart she had with her mother’s sudden death over the weekend, you could see her resolve. Funnily enough as emotional as it was it was somehow different than her short program on Tuesday night. When she skated the short her emotions were so raw that it was almost too painful to watch. As if we were intruding on a very private moment. It seemed in seeing her composure last night that the real mountain to climb had been making it to the ice for the short. Coming in third place then and being in striking place of the podium almost gave me the feeling that she felt honour bound to skate and “finish the story.”

At the end of the skate while taking her bows, she softly blew a kiss in the air; a tender but bittersweet moment intended to acknowledge that Therese and Joannie Rochette had arrived there together. I don’t think I have ever been so moved.

I have been asked it there was a “sympathy bump” in the marks for Rochette. I don’t think so. The program was beautifully put together by Lori Nichol and Joannie was able to draw on the fact that points were being collected all along the way giving the technical aspects of her skating a bit of a cushion that, as it happened, she didn’t really need.

All that’s left is the Exhibition Gala which rolls out on Saturday at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver.

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