Yuna Kim sits 1st going into figure skating free program
Canadians Kaetlyn Osmond, Gabrielle Daleman in contention
Defending Olympic champion figure skater Yuna Kim posted the highest score of the season in the women's short program in Sochi and leads the event heading into the free skating finale on Thursday (10 a.m. ET).
Kim is trying to become just the third woman to ever repeat as Olympic figure skating champion, and she's the odds-on favourite to do so.
Kim skated an almost flawless routine and posted a 74.92 in her short program. That's below the world record score of 78.50 she set four years ago in Vancouver, but still better than anyone else has done this year.
Russian skater Adelina Sotnikova was hot on her heels.
Sotnikova is the Russian champion but has shared the limelight in Sochi with her teammate Yulia Lipnitskaya, the 15-year-old phenom who came out of nowhere to steal the show in the team event to open these Games.
Sotnikova had the crowd eating out of the palm of her hand with a mistake-free routine. When the scores came in, she buried her face in her hands to hide her joy — she scored a personal best of 74.64, good enough for second place and right behind Kim.
Canadians Kaetlyn Osmond and Gabrielle Daleman both performed well enough Wednesday and will also take part in the free skate.
Osmond, the Canadian champion, who was born in Marystown, N.L., but now lives and trains in Edmonton, was ranked eighth after the 2013 world championships.
She downgraded her first jump attempt — a combination that was supposed to be a triple-triple — into a triple-double. And on the third and final jump of her routine, she stumbled on the landing and her hands touched the ice.
"My jumps were a little shaky and today I just couldn't save them," she told CBC after her performance. "But I was really happy with my other aspects."
Her other technical aspects were indeed strong, and Osmond scored a 56.18, good enough to move on. But it was well off her season's best score in the short program of 62.54. She's currently in 13th place heading into the free skate.
"Of course it's not what I wanted [but] I'll be ready for tomorrow," Osmond said.
The 16-year-old Daleman, from Toronto, skated third in her first ever senior-level international event.
Carolina Kostner of Italy skated in the final flight of skaters and threw down an equally solid performance, with a very strong score of 74.12 to take third place.
In fourth place sits American champion Gracie Gold, who scored a 68.63 in her short program. Fellow American Ashley Wagner also posted a strong performance and scored 65.21, good enough for sixth.
Lipnitskaya flubbed a landing in her routine, and that cost her points. But she's still in the hunt with a score of 65.23, good enough for fifth place.