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Italy's golden girl Kostner comes of age

02 april 2012, 18:44
0
Carolina Kostner. ©REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
Carolina Kostner. ©REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
Italy's Carolina Kostner performs in the ladies ice short program. ©AFP
Italy's Carolina Kostner performs in the ladies ice short program. ©AFP
(From L to R) Russia Alena Leonova, Italia Carolina Kostner and Japan Akiko Suzuki. ©AFP
(From L to R) Russia Alena Leonova, Italia Carolina Kostner and Japan Akiko Suzuki. ©AFP
Long the golden girl of Italian figure skating Carolina Kostner finally came of age on Saturday as she stood on the top of the podium after being crowned women's champion at the world championships, AFP reports.

The 25-year-old from Bolzano gave Italy their first women's title ten years after competing in her first world championships.

It has been a long road for Kostner -- who has struggled with nerves at major competitions -- and had been among the favourites to take gold at the 2006 Winter Games at home in Turin.

She admitted she used memories of that painful experience when she was skating in front of hundreds of Italian fans who had travelled the short distance to the French Riveria town to support their star.

"It was so overwhelming to go out there and have so many people cheering for you, it was hard for me to stay focused.

"It reminded me lot of Torino 2006 when I was younger and felt a lot of pressure," said Kostner, who finished ninth in Turin.

"I realised I could finally banish that experience and create a better one. I really tried to skate my heart out."

From a sporting background, Kostner has long been touted for success since winning Italy's first European women's title in 2007, taking gold a further three times in 2008, 2010 and 2012.

Her cousin is former world and Olympic alpine skiier Isolde Kostner, while her mother Patrizia was a nationally ranked figure skater in the 1970s and her father Erwin was on the Italian national ice hockey team.

She finally conquered her nerves on Saturday night as sitting third after the short programme she pulled out a rare perfect free skate to Mozart's Concerto No. 23 that included 11 jumps, five of them triples.

She scored 189.94 points to take the title ahead of Russia's Alena Leonova (184.28), with Akiko Suzuki of Japan (180.68) claiming bronze after the free skating final.

"It's my tenth season at the senior level and in each season I learned something. Today was my day," said Kostner who capped a season which saw her win a fourth European title and the ISU Grand Prix final.

"I would have been happy with the second place but I thought 'keep on dreaming to the end'."

It is also the fourth world medal for Kostner, who won bronze in 2005 and 2011 and silver in 2008, and she admitted that she had considered retiring after finishing just 16th in the 2010 Winter Olympics.

"After the Vancouver Olympics I wanted to stop skating. I stopped for a while. But I missed it and the life as an athlete," explained Kostner, who trains in Obersdorf, Germany.

"My main goal now isn't to win medals but to skate because I love it."

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