LIVE BLOG: Ladies’ free skate

Joannie Rochette takes the bronze!

The final round of ladies figure skating will start in 15 minutes. It’s airing on TSN. At the risk of sounding repetitive (see Tuesday’s skate live blog), forget hockey. This is where the drama will unfold.

To set things up: Yu-Na Kim of South Korea, who is coached by living legend Brian Orser, is in first with a world record-breaking score.

Arch rival Mao Asada is in second—she landed a triple axel on Tuesday, the second woman ever to do so at the Olympics (first was countrywoman Midori Ito in 1992).

Also from Japan, Miki Ando is holding forth, another serious contender for a medal tonight.

And in third is Joannie Rochette, who stole the show on Tuesday with an emotional, stunning display of grace and power after her mother died of a heart attack on Sunday.

There are 24 skaters taking the ice tonight. These heavy weights are in the last flight.

First glimpse of Kim and Rochette. Both wearing blue costumes.

Canadian skater Cynthia Phaneuf is competing as well, in the 7th spot.

Black just spilled beans: apparently RBC provided tickets for the parents of Turkey’s Karademir to attend the Olympics. They weren’t able to get them online…

Speaking of Karademir, she’s up. In a black and blue dress. Missed the double toe loop in her combination jump, and then fell.

Singled the next jump, then doubled what should have been a triple. Mama and papa will still love her.

This is a loooong four minutes.

Pops is smiling, and Mom is waving the Turkish flag.

Karademir is sitting lady-like, legs crossed, while awaiting score. Shaking her head. Total score (TS): 129.54.

Spain’s Sonia Lafuente is on. Wearing all white. Big fall on her first jump. Should have been a triple flip.

Recovers with a triple loop. Fancy footwork follows.

That’s never been done before in skating. She just “wiped the dust off” her hip. Like Jay-Z does with his shoulder.

Triple toe in the second half of the program, rather than at the start, means more points. They value effort at the Olympics.

Blows kisses with a purple skate guard in hand. Pulls coaches sitting on either side of her in for hugs. Score: 83.77 (missed the total score). No love from the judges.

China’s Yan Liu is on. Wearing red. Why red? Why not? Her music is “Why are the flowers so red?” Why not?

Solid triple toe loop.

Triple salchow-double toe, nice. Black: “She is landing everything here!” You’d hope. Don’t jinx.

Jinxed: singled a triple!

Commentators say she is too “business like” between the jumps. Smiles to finish.

Double wave from Liu. Her coach has one hand on her back. TS: 143.47.

Estonia’s Elena Glebova is on wearing red, pink and black. Won’t see as many triples from her, we’re hearing. Way to set expectations nice and low, commentators.

They really rub it in too: “Well executed double axel.”

Planning a triple triple mid-way through, which is rare, they say. Why? No clue. But she does it! “Beautifully!” commentators concede. Take that.

Glebova gets too hot to handle: Fall on the triple salchow.

Skates off with hands on hips.

Blowing kisses, double waves. You’d think choreographers would come up with creative moves for this awkward time waiting for scores. TS: 134.19, for second. Liu is still in first.

Uzbetkistan’s Anastasia Gimazetdinova is on. In purple. She’s the oldest skater tonight: 29. On Tuesday she was referred to as a “grande dame.”

Landing jumps with flare. Despite her “age” she is finally able to express music well, we hear. Like a fine wine, better with time!

Nearly slips on a landing. Saves it. Fighter. But oh! Falls on the circular sequence. Silver lining? No chance of brittle bones at 29.

Smiling, waiting and blowing kisses alternately. Pecks coach on the cheek. Biting lower lip. TS: 131.65. Rolls eyes, shrugs. In fourth.

Coach pats Germany’s Sarah Hecken on the hand before she skates off to start her routine.

Wearing dress with splatters of blue, like it’s been hit with paint balls. Sticks her triple toe-triple toe.

Her face doesn’t display “the nuances of the music” as well as the next skater. Oh the comparisons! Can’t she have her own moment here?

Big smiles, landing jumps. There’s that facial expression!

Music just turned orchestra-techno. Like symphonic with a pop beat. And Hecken ends with a fist pump!

Phaneuf is next. Doing squats to warm up. Wearing a green dress with LOTS of BIG amber jewels on it.

Hecken’s TS: 143.94 for first place! She’s delighted, smiling, shrugging. Commentators impose own take on what she must be thinking: “To say one time—one time—I was the leader at the Olympics.” Read: This won’t last long.

An aside: Just learned that the Canadian women’s hockey team took gold! A good omen for the Canadian figure skaters. Now, with that distraction out of the way, here is Phaneuf.

She is gorgeous. Her music has some Cleopatra theme. Explains the centre-parted hair.

Nails her triple toe-double axel. But falls on her next jump! Lands the others.

Commentators say she made a mistake. Can’t specify what. Then singles an axel.

Choreography is being called a “masterpiece.” Dramatic, anyway. So were those solid jumps.

Finishes. Looks to the ceiling.

Hugs her coach as she skates off. Doesn’t look happy. Seems to reject someone offering a teddy bear. Not a fair substitute for a medal?

She too is sitting with legs crossed awaiting the score. Her coach lifts up Phaneuf’s chin with one finger. Chin up! Phaneuf sticks out her tongue and smiles. TS: 156.62, for first! For now.

Finland’s Kiira Korpi is on, landing high, powerful jumps.

Her dress: blue sequins bodice, black skirt, red capped sleeves.

She is the most sought-after endorsement athlete in Finland. That’s because she’s so pretty, we’re hearing. Seems believable.

Finn finishes with a grin!

Korpi’s TS: 161.57, to steal first from Phaneuf.

Aussie Cheltzie Lee, a former gymnast, has only been skating for six years, and Black says that’s “ridiculous.” Wearing purple and black.

Huge jumps go off without a hitch. But she’s only doing two types of triple jumps. Later we’ll see four or five types, apparently. But how many of us could tell the difference?

She falls. And doesn’t scramble to get up. Slides and pauses there, legs outstretched in front of her on the ice. Only had 40 seconds left to go. That must hurt.

She’s saying hi to Gabby, Brian…? Smiling, rubbing her thighs. Winces at her score: 138.16. Gets a hug from coach.

Switzerland’s Sarah Meier making sure her laces are tight before taking the ice. Wearing all white. Her routine is a version of Romeo & Juliet.

Lands triple lutz-double toe. But doubles what should have been a triple flip. And then does that again.

Commentators called her “underachieved” and “slow.” But she’s smiling, which is more than others have done so far.

She can spin!

Her coaches are with her, rubbing her arm and back. They’re smiling, but she’s not. Seems to be angry. Rolling her eyes. TS: 152.81, for third. Expressionless.

Hungarian Julia Sebestyen is on, wearing vibrant royal blue dress. Slips on the landing of her first jump.

Recovers with a high triple flip. Commentators wishing she had more expression.

Her routine was “front-loaded” with jumps, slow ending.

Seeing Asada come in, iPod in ears. Was it her who, while awaiting her score on Tuesday, thanked someone for making sure she didn’t forget to bring it with her that night?

Double waves from Sebestyen. TS: 151.26. Coach kisses her head.

Min-Jung Kwak, 16, from Korea. Black calls her “mini Yu-Na”. Wearing a black and turquois dress. Skating to Les Misérables. Sticks her triple lutz.

Misses her double toe on a triple lutz.

Crowd is loving her spins.

Huge applause. Black calls her “the future” of skating.

Kwak couldn’t be happier. Has her hands in prayer pose. Squeals and puts her hands on her cheeks, like Home Alone at her score: 155.53 for third!

We’re back after a 15 minute break. I just did a little math, and I bet this could be done in 2.5 hours rather than 4.5 hours if only there were fewer breaks. Just saying.

Rochette is in the building! She’s walking in. Her dad is here too, in the stands. Both composed. Imagine what they’re feeling.

Russian Alena Leonova is on. In black and royal blue. She’s skating to the sound track of Chicago. Stumbles coming out of two jumps. Nice triple flip-double axel.

Slowing down.

Speeding up.

Finishes with a big fist pump, and woah, pulling her hair. Wow. She’s pumped.

Blowing kisses. Seems that one hand is gloved, one not. She is still excited! Speaking Russian really fast. So it sounds. TS: 172.46, for first. Double thumbs up and a stuck out tongue!

Japan’s Akiko Suzuki doing West Side Story in a red dress. Nice three jump combination.

So light on her feet.

Big smile with a side of spiral.

Doubled a triple flip. But pulls off a great triple lutz. She’s got fans in the stands.

Music change and a burst of energy. Some arm twirls at her side. And quick steps. Peanut gallery says it looks like the Elaine dance on ice. But elegant!

Wow, she is moved to tears as she finishes. Overcome with emotion, covers her face with both hands. The crowd is excited!

Double wave from Suzuki. She’s regained her composure. TS: 181.44! That’s first! Eyes bug out, big smile to her coach.

Italian Carolina Kostner is up, also in blue. Lots of blue! Blue is the new black. Bach is on.

Ooh. Slips on her first jump.

Like we heard on Tuesday, she moves too fast into her jumps. Falls again!

10: 29pm
Gets the next jump. Black says she struggles with consistency. Yes.

Oh again! Falls. These are big, hard falls. And again! Oh my.

Lands the next jump. Thank goodness for inconsistency.

Wow, finishes with her her head in hand, and slow glide bent over. Stands up, bonks her forehead with her hand. But smiles at least!

Kostner holding back tears. Throws her hands up in the air: 151.90, for seventh.

Laura Lepisto of Finland, taking her full minute to settle onto the ice. Starts off time of the music. Oh no, the wrong music played or something. Rolls her eyes! Justifiable.

Wearing red, skating tango. Huge triple combination.

“Crisp and powerful” and “effortless” jumps. Indeed. Smiling, very expressive face.

Finishes with a self hug. She’s happy.

We see Rochette walking with coach, she’s in black tights, grey t-shirt. Seems strong.

“Woah!” says Lepisto. 187.97 for a big first!

Russia’s Ksenia Makarova is on. Wearing royal blue, with a little orange thing on one hip, like you’d have in flag football.

Lands her triple combination. Solid jumps. Striking lay back spin. Tad unsteady spiral.

Nailing jump after jump! But slips on a spin. Finishes with fast spin sequence.

Waiting for score, yelling lots of things into the camera, some in English such as “all my schools”…? TS:171.91, for fourth.

Georgian Elene Gedevanishvili is on, in bright red with a bit of gold. She’s a “fireball on the ice” we hear.

Big fall on her first jump.

Regains footing with triple toe-triple toe-double toe.

Crowd clapping to the beat of the music. But she has lost enthusiasm.

Finishes with a look of disappointment.

We see the glittery back of Rochette.

First air heart of the night from Gedevanishvili. She’s smiling. TS: 155.24, putting her in eighth. Mouths, “Woah.”

Rochette is on the ice, warming up along with the other five skaters left to show us their stuff. The crowd is roaring. She is wearing a turquoise dress with sequins.

Rochette tightens the lace of one skate. Her right one. She always puts her left skate on first. Coach says something to her, she nods, skates off.

We are seeing the commercials that air in Korea of Kim, and paparazzi around her.

We’re hearing that American Rachel Flatt is the “dark horse” tonight, a real threat because she is so consistent.

Rochette has left the ice.

Flatt is up, 17 years old, wearing red with gold sequins. She’s in fifth right now. Lands a solid double axel. Then triple flip-triple toe loop. Effortless.

Smiling. Apparently she spins slower than Kim and Asada, but she can land jumps like nobody’s business.

Commentators call her “Miss Consistency.” Finishes with a huge smile and a “Yes!” Blacks says: “Flatt out great!”

Wow, no idea what she’s motioning with her hands, looks like a C and an O. TS: 182.49, for second spot. Triple jumps were “downgraded.” Seems disappointed, but taking it in stride. “Okay,” shrugs. Commentators stunned.

Ando of Japan is skating to Cleopatra music. Wearing turquoise and gold dress and cuffs. Lands her triple combination. Apparently she’s been upping her routine all day. Her hair is half down, very Cleopatra.

Lands her second triple lutz. We’re hearing she appears cautious.

Smiles are nowhere to be seen. Not even after an amazing jump.

Finishes with slow smile, but not before shutting her eyes hard.

Waiting for score. Here it comes: 188.86, for first. Double wave, “thank you” and throws her head back. Relief?

“Queen Yu-Na Kim” as Black referred to her earlier is on now. Wearing royal blue. Apropos. Skating to Concerto in F.

Sticks her triple lutz-triple toe. And then a triple flip, with a smile to boot.

More magnificent jumps. “She is just ON.”

She moves with captivating ease.

Before she’s even done, Black can’t hold back: “One of the greatest free skates in Olympic history! It doesn’t get better!”

She’s crying. Skating slowly, folds in half, hands on her knees. Orser is smiling, raises his eyebrows. The crowd is hysterical.

Black isn’t sure anyone can match Kim’s performance. Not even Rochette?

Orser is so happy sitting next to Kim, his face is bright red. She is wiping her face with a tissue. Breathing heavy. Smiling. Score comes and Kim mouths “Oh my God!” 228.56! A NEW WORLD RECORD. She stands up and waves, and Orser lifts his hands in victory too!

Japan’s Asada is not to be outdone. She lands her triple axel, a stunning, rare accomplishment. And then does it again, in a combination. The crowd roars.

She is wearing a black and red dress, with black gloves. She moves with tremendous speed and grace. A lot of emotion in her face.

“These girls are here to fight it out tonight.” But then, a couple of stumbles, one going into a jump.

Finishes without much joy in her face. “She knows she gave some points back,” say commentators.

We see Rochette’s father in the stands. She takes the ice.

Double wave from Asada. Huge bouquet of red and white roses beside her. TS: 205.50, for second. She hasn’t moved her face and her gaze has been straight ahead.

Rochette’s name is announced. She is fixing her laces again. Wiping the snow from her blades. Nods to her coach. And she is settling on the ice.

Nails her first jump: triple lutz-double toe-double loop.

Oh, but steps out of her next jump.

Her eyebrows are furrowed.

She is gliding in a spiral.

The crowd is cheering spontaneously, emphatically.

Sticks her jump. And again.

Crowd is clapping to the beat of the music. Clapping to a symphony. She nails another jump, and bites her lower lip in determination on the landing.

The music isn’t even done, she’s still skating, and the crowd is thunderous. Her father is clapping. She is emotional, smiling, but composed. Taking bows in every direction, and the crowd is on its feet. Flowers are raining on the ice. She picks up a stuffed Olympic mascot and waves it to the crowd. Hugs Perron, who hands her pink skate guards.

She is speaking French to the cameras. Has her hand on her heart. Perron is hugging her tightly. TS: 292.64, for third. Rochette and Perron embrace, you can’t even see their faces they are so close together. They are both holding back tears. She waves to the crowd, and nods slightly.

Last skater of the night. If anyone will disrupt the medal standing now it’s her. American Mirai Nagasu. She is wearing a red dress with black sequins. Her second double toe is “iffy” say commentators.

The “best lay back of the competition.”

“A first-class spiral”

Lands yet another solid jump. And then the triple toe loop too, the last jump of her performance.

“She did everything she had to do here” says Black.

Finishes with a triumphant arm in the air, and a “Yes”.

“It will be very close” Black muses.

Nagasu saying hello to her mom and dad, among others, into the cameras. Drinking water. Saying more hellos and thank yous. Scores are not coming quickly. She seems happy, smiling for the cameras. Commentators very perplexed by the delay. Finally, the TS: 190.15. For fourth.

ROCHETTE gets bronze!

Rochette’s father is getting a huge hug in the stands. He is clapping.

Rochette “is a true Canadian Olympic hero!” proclaims Black.

Nagasu takes fourth with admirable grace and joy. She stands up and waves to the crowd and smiles huge. That is remarkable sportsmanship.

“I can’t believe it, and I’m really glad that I became Olympic champion,” says Kim in an interview. She is clearly emotional and still wrapping her head around this epic win.

We are watching a replay of Orser as Kim did her performance and it is entirely endearing. He is bursting with pride, and almost mimicking her movements from outside the ice.

The Mounties—and the medals—are on the ice!

Rochette is back on the ice. Bowing. Smiling. She is beaming. Her father is too. He is holding back tears. She skates to the podium. Isn’t sure which one to take. Redirected, she hops on.

Asada skates out, “Miss Triple Axel” as commentators call her, bows.

Kim skates out, the crowd is still on its feat. She is smiling, and bowing. She hugs Rochette and Asada and takes the top spot. Clenches her hands at her sides and then releases.

Rochette is named the bronze medallist. Big sigh, smile, wave to the crowd. The medal goes around her neck. She looks at it, holds it, says wow, shakes her head. The flowers are given to her. She is holding back tears. She raises the flowers, salutes the crowd. The tears have started. She wipes her eyes. She waves.

Asada is given the silver medal, she smiles. It is around her neck, and she says thank you. She is pursing her lips. The flowers come. No smiles, she looks like she will cry. She looks at the silver medal. And then back to the crowd.

Kim is announced as the gold medallist. She smiles, waves. Orser is clapping alongside Perron. She looks at the gold medal around her neck, picks it up and waves it at the crowd. The flowers are waved. The Korean anthem is playing.

Kim is singing, with her hand over her heart. Rochette is still holding back tears, smiling through the moment.

Kim is crying now, wiping her cheeks. The three medallists are all on the top podium, smiling. No tears for that photo.

Rochette has a Canadian flag draped over her shoulders, Kim the Korean flag, Asada the Japanese. They smile. Cameras flash like lightening in the dim arena.

A massive sign in front of them says “Go Go Joannie.” Did she ever.

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