SEOUL, 13 February (BelTA -Yonhap News). - With a flawless free skate, South Korean Lee Hae-in rallied to win the gold medal at the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships, beating out countrywoman Kim Ye-lim to become the first South Korean champion of the annual event in 14 years.
Lee, 17, won the women's singles competition with 210.84 points, edging out Kim by 1.55 points for her first Four Continents title at Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on Friday (local time).
Lee and Kim won silver and bronze medals at last year's competition.
The Four Continents is an annual International Skating Union (ISU) event open to skaters from continents excluding Europe. Before Lee's breakthrough on Friday, retired star Kim Yu-na had been the only South Korean woman with a Four Continents gold, having won the 2009 event in Vancouver.
Lee and Kim are now the first two South Korean skaters to reach the podium at back-to-back Four Continents.
Kim had been in the lead after Thursday's short program with 72.84 points. Isabeau Levito of the United States was right behind Kim at 71.50 points but she withdrew from the free skate. Lee had been in sixth place after the short program with 69.13 points.
Lee, however, had the best free skate score in the field with 141.71 points. A clean double axel-triple toeloop combination set the tone for an impressive program, which also featured a perfect triple lutz-triple toeloop combo, and a triple lutz-double toeloop-double loop combo.
Kim was the last to take the ice, needing at least 138.01 points for her first Four Continents gold. Instead, Kim only managed 136.45 points. She lost execution points for under-rotating on a triple lutz and for having a triple salchow downgraded to a double salchow.
Lee made her senior international debut at the 2021 world championships, where she finished 10th. She improved to seventh the following year and will be competing in her third worlds next month in Saitama, Japan.