South Korea’s Yuna Kim is one performance away from clutching her second straight Olympic gold medal.
Taking the ice in Sochi’s Iceberg Palace, the 23-year-old defending champion can become the first woman to defend her title in consecutive games since 1988 as the Ladies’ short program enters the final round on Thursday.
Only Sonja Henie and Katarina Witt have ever won back-to-back golds, with Witt being the last in Calgary.
Shaking off some early nerves, Kim gained a leg up on her main competition with a clean skate on Wednesday after 15-year-old Russian hopeful Julia Lipnitskaia and Japan’s Mao Asada both fell during their routines. Kim holds a slim 0.28-point lead over Russia’s Adelina Sotnikov, who owns second place.
Italy’s Carolina Kostner, the oldest of the top contenders at 27 and a five-time European champion, is in third with judges scores of 74.12. Team USA’s Gracie Gold sits in fourth place with a score of 68.63, and Lipnitskaia still holds an outside chance at a medal in fifth place.
According to USA Today, the judges gave Kim the top overall score but aren’t out to crown her the champion early, leaving the window open for Kostner, who boasted the best component scores on Wednesday.
All told, one jump separates first place from fifth leaving the field and podium wide open.
Gold is joined by fellow Americans Ashley Wagner and Polina Edmunds, who hold sixth and seventh respectively, and are also within striking distance for a medal.
TV Channel: NBC Sports Network
Time: Thursday, Feb. 20 at 10 a.m. EST
Online Stream Info: A live online stream of the event can be watched at NBC Live Extra here.