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Yuna Kim takes early lead at Worlds

Mar 14, 2013, 5:40 PM EDT

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

Vancouver gold medalist Yuna Kim made her comeback look easy Thursday, winning the short program at her first major competition since 2011.

“I was worried because it has been a long time since I competed at the world championships,” she said. “But at the same time I was confident.”

Kim glided to a 69.97 to go up more than three points on defending world champ Carolina Kostner of Italy, who earned 66.86 for her short program. Kanako Murakami of Japan sits in third, and her teammate, two-time world champ Mao Asada, is in sixth after flubbing a combination.

The American girls didn’t wow anyone on day one, but both put in solid performances as U.S. champ Ashely Wagner slid into fifth and Gracie Gold ended up in ninth – the same position she sat in at nationals before an impressive free skate propelled her to silver.

“The short program is harder for me than my long program,” Gold told USA Today after scoring 58.85 on Thursday. “But I do love it and know I can skate it really well. So I’m glad that I showed the judges and the audience and everyone watching what I can do under pressure.”

Wagner and Gold need to combine for thirteenth place or better in order for the U.S. to get a third slot in next February’s Sochi Olympics.