VANCOUVER -- They call her Queen, South Korea's Kim Yu-Na, and the stunning performance that saw her win Olympic gold Thursday night was not just a coronation but an affirmation of how much better a figure skater she is than any other woman on Planet Earth.
To witness Kim on the ice is to evoke the same sentiment you get when sprinter Usain Bolt is waiting for the stick in the relay.
It's like Michael Phelps on the blocks, flapping his arms.
Game over. You know it. Everyone knows it.
Kim, alone, represents the blend of athleticism and artistry that the scoring system implemented after the judging scandal at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games is meant to produce.
It's not just the triple jumps, and she threw six of them Thursday. It's not just the world-record scores -- which she produced Tuesday in the short program and then again Thursday in the free skate.
It's the sassy Bond Girl she turned herself into in the short program on Tuesday. It's the elegant interpretation she lent Thursday to George Gershwin's "Concerto in F."
With Kim, it's not just sport, it's art, too -- and that, at its best, is all that figure skating is meant to be.
It's the entire package. "I always try my best," she said. "Of course the other skaters do their best. Maybe I'm lucky!"
Just really, really good. Japan's Mao Asadawas a distant second and Canada's Joannie Rochette, skating just days after the death of her mother, third. Rochette said of her bronze, "I hope this medal inspires some people to go after their dreams, no matter what -- no matter what happens."
Kim's victory underscores two pronounced trends in women's figure skating:
One, Asian skaters are on the rise. Kim's gold is South Korea's first in figure skating; Japan's Shizuka Arakawa won gold in Torino in 2006. Moreover, Japan's Miki Ando won the 2007 world championships; Asada won the worlds in 2008; Kim won in 2009.
Two, American skaters -- who for so long have dominated the sport -- need something new.
The American women earned only two spots here at these 2010 Winter Games, instead of the traditional three, because of uneven performances at last year's world championships in Los Angeles. Mirai Nagasu finished fourth here, 12 long points away from Rochette in third; Rachael Flatttook seventh.
The 2010 Games are the first since 1964 at which an American woman has not won a medal. Those 1964 Games were the first Olympics after a plane crash in 1961 that took the lives of the entire U.S. figure skating team, which was en route to that year's world championships.
"In Sochi," said Nagasu, who is 16 and doesn't even have her California driver's license yet, "I hope to go for the gold."
Kim's victory will surely mean millions to her in endorsement opportunities. It will further cement her status as one of South Korea's leading celebrities. It may also, in a turn that will play out over the years to come, come to mean billions of dollars to South Korea.
How so? Kim will now almost surely assume a lead role in Pyeongchang's bid for the 2018 Winter Games, her gold and charm an obvious counter to the golds and charm of 1980s skating champion Katarina Witt, one of the leading lights of Munich's bid for those same Winter Games.
All Kim had to do to make it all fall into her lap was to skate the way she did Thursday.
Which anyone who saw her win last year's worlds knew she not only could do -- but would do.
Third in the world in 2007 and 2008, Kim, who trains in Toronto with two-time Olympic silver medalist Brian Orser to escape the media crush in Seoul, put it all together last year in L.A.
The record-setting short program that Kim skated Tuesday night gave her such a commanding lead over Asada and Rochette that Kim probably could have made two major mistakes and still won.
The short program also freed Kim emotionally
"I think she's just going to soar after this," Orser told Associated Press. "She's just going to fly."
Her free-skate score, 150.06, obliterated the old world record -- hers -- by roughly 17 points. "It was almost a man's score," Kim said with a laugh.
Indeed, her final overall score, 228.56, was about 10 points better than what Jeremy Abbott, the two-time U.S. national champion, managed here -- and would have put her ninth in the men's Olympic competition.
The men are allowed to do one more jump in their free skates than the ladies -- which makes what Kim did all the more impressive.
She is, indeed, the queen. She wore crown earrings on Thursday. They suit her.