Kim, Belbin and Agosto win Sunday
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- Kim Yu-na was not infallible. She still was a winner at Skate America.
Not stumbling at all were Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto, who swept all three portions of ice dance.
Feeling nervous and "heavy," Kim, the world champion from South Korea, won her second straight Skate America title despite losing the free skate Sunday to American Rachael Flatt.
Kim made two major mistakes, including a fall on the triple flip -- the one element on which she has struggled at times. That left enough of an opening for Flatt, the U.S. runner-up last January, to take the free program 116.11 points to 111.70.
But Kim had such a large lead after her surpassing short program that she took the gold medal by more than 13 points.
"Not every skater can achieve what they want every time," Kim said through a translator. "I felt my stamina was not that good. I couldn't move my body like what I thought.
"I got a very good score in my first Grand Prix in Paris and I was feeling the expectations from many people. I was under pressure about that.
"I learned a lot today -- always try to focus on the next jump."
Flatt wasn't spectacular, either, and received no points for one of her spin sequences, when she almost seemed to lose her way on the ice. But she hit seven triple jumps and broke out in a huge smile after nailing a triple flip-triple toe loop on her second element.
Kim, meanwhile, landed only three triples cleanly.
"It's pretty exciting, I certainly skated like I train," Flatt said. "Personally, this was incredibly inspiring and a little exhausting at the end."
Flatt skated immediately before Kim, then watched the world champion struggle.
"She's a wonderful competitor and it's an honor to win the free skate," Flatt said. "It shows that everyone makes mistakes ... though we're all perfectionists."
Kim heads to the Grand Prix Final next month in Tokyo, where she again will be the favorite. Flatt could be there, depending on what happens at Skate Canada next week; she is not competing there.
So Flatt is thinking ahead to January's national championships, where the two-woman Olympic squad will be chosen.
"This was a great performance for me and it gave me a lot of confidence heading into nationals," the 17-year-old Flatt said.
Julia Sebestyen of Hungary finished third.
Belbin and Agosto skated to "Ave Maria" and "Amen" and admitted it was not their very best. But the 2006 Olympic silver medalists and current world runners-up staged a fast, energetic free skate that earned them 95.62 points Sunday. Their overall score of 195.85 was best by nearly 24 points over Italy's Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte.
"Once again, we felt able to execute all three segments of the competition," Agosto said of winning compulsories and original dance before taking the free dance. "Today was hard. We put a lot of energy into yesterday and this was not our very best.
"There's a long way to go to the end of the season and a lot of room to grow."
They are headed to next month's Grand Prix Final, too, as are the Italians.
"We're still processing it," Cappellini said. "It's a bit unexpected. It was not exactly our goal this season. It's a good reward for everything we were doing this summer ... it's a big thing."
The bronze medal for Alexandra and Roman Zaretski of Israel also was a big thing.
"This was definitely one of our best free dances we ever skated," he said. "I have no words. This is my first medal."
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