Japan's Midori Ito won the women's World Figure Skating championship Saturday with a fearless performance that awed not only the judges but the other skaters.
"If she thought she could climb up to the top of the rafters and jump off with her skates on, do six backflip revolutions and land on her feet, she would do it," said American men's skater Chris Bowman.
Bowman said even the top men's skaters would have trouble beating her.
Ito performed the first triple axel by a woman in a major international competition, broke two records and took the heart out of her rivals with a dazzling display of jumping as she became Japan's first-ever figure skating champion.
She skated a flawless routine that earned her five perfect marks of 6.0 for technical merit. It was no contest.
"I had no pressure on me," Ito said after winning a showdown with West Germany's Claudia Leistner and Jill Trenary, the American champion, both of whom made crucial mistakes. "I think I skated 100 percent."
Trenary, in the lead going into Saturday's free skating which counted for 50 percent of the total mark, made a tearful exit from the championships, breaking down twice at a news conference after-wards.
"It was not a matter of gaining gold, silver or bronze. I just wanted to skate well," the 20-year-old American said. "There was no doubt in my mind that Ito would do it. She's an excellent free skater."
She also let Leistner, the European champion, sneak into the silver medal position, matching the West German's 1983 showing.
"I knew my dream of gold had gone after the compulsory figures," Leistner said. "I skated to beat Trenary."
Ito, whose technical brilliance for years had been overshadowed by the all-round skills of the now-retired Katerina Witt, at last had the stage to herself.
She made full use of it.
In addition to her five perfect marks, she scored four 5.9s for technical merit as she closed out the opposition with a stunning performance of poise and balance.
The Soviets' Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov won the pairs event and another Soviet couple, Marina Klimova and Sergei Ponomarenko, the ice dance title.
While each event had its high spots, none matched the women's competition for technical brilliance or emotion.
Leistner, who was overtaken by Trenary in Friday's short program, fell on her first triple jump but recovered her composure and finished strongly without any more errors.