Olympic women's figure skating gold-medal favorite Kim Yu-Na of South Korea lived up to the billing -- and shook off the heavy pressure -- in the short program Tuesday at Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver.
The 19-year-old world champion was fabulous and nearly flawless, scoring 78.5 points -- an all-time world best -- to grab the lead entering Thursday's free skate.
Behind her are medal hopefuls Mao Asada (73.78) of Japan and Joannie Rochette (71.36) of Canada, who wowed the crowd with a brave performance two days after her mother died suddenly.
U.S. youngsters Rachael Flatt (64.64), the 17-year-old American champion, and 16-year-old Mirai Nagasu (63.76) performed well in their first Olympics and stand fifth and sixth.
The last skater of the night, Mikki Ando of Japan, the 2007 world champion, is in fourth place (64.76).
USA Today has contributed to the report.