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Kim, Asada to face off at skating's Grand Prix final

International Herald Tribune Sports 11.12.2008 22:04
Kim, Asada to face off at skating's Grand Prix final - Kim Yu-na - Mao Asada

GOYANG, South Korea (AP) - South Korea's Kim Yu-na will have the support - and pressure - of being the hometown favorite when she defends her Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final title this week.

Kim heads into the finals as the top qualifier from the six-round preliminary series and is seeking to win her third consecutive straight Grand Prix Final title when the short program gets under way Friday.

Competitors make it to the Grand Prix Final based on their point totals from six worldwide Grand Prix events: Skate America, Skate Canada, the Trophee Eric Bompard, Cup of China, NHK Trophy and Cup of Russia.

Kim faces a serious challenge from the reigning world champion, Mao Asada of Japan, her chief rival throughout the season-long series and Grand Prix runner-up the past two years. Asada finished second to Kim at Skate America and the Cup of China and will be looking to seize the title from Kim in Goyang on Saturday with two triple axels.

Joannie Rochette of Canada, who won gold at the Bompard and Skate Canada, and last year's Grand Prix bronze medalist from Italy, Carolina Kostner, are also contenders. For the third time in five years, no American women are in the Grand Prix final.