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Will Be a Michelle Kwan in 2006

Posted November. 12, 2002 23:01,   


A confident fairy on the ice, dreaming of becoming another Michelle Kwan. She is the cherished dream of Korean figure skaters who are just beginning to make their appearances in the world.

It was a 5th-level (i.e. highest for elementary students) short program game in the 2002 National Figure Skating Contest for Young Girls, which took place at the indoor ice rink in the Taerung Training Center. The first place went to Kim Yon-ah (12), who goes to Koonpo Shinheung Elementary School. But her performance was fantastic, earning applause from every viewer. Her average was 5.2 out of the full score of 6 for the designated elements, and 5.2 again for the expression, distancing herself far ahead of the others whose average was just hovering around 3.

Even though she is a junior player, her performance is enough to be ranked among the top even in competition with the senior players. In April, this year, she won the championship in a world contest, which was held in Slovenia.

Her coach Kim Sae-yol (31) evaluates, "Kim is endowed with each and every requirement needed for a player to top the world. If we put her into a world contest right now, she would rank herself among the top 20."

First of all, Kim has a slim and beautiful figure, weighing 32 kg with a height of 144cm. Keeping in shape is a must for a figure skating athlete. She is also good at expression.

In addition, she jumps excellently. She performs, without any glitch, 5 times of the triple jump. Some even say that Kim is just made for the figure skating. She can easily carry out each and every difficult technique in the book including the lay-up spin.

Kim first started figure skating when she was 7 years of age. Ever since, she has built up firm foundations of it, which is the best merit of her. On top of that, she never loses her confidence under any circumstances and conditions. Thus, all the experts agree, "If she continues working hard with correct coaching, she will top the world some day."

Living up to the expectation, she has a big dream. Kim says, "I don`t mind being said another Michelle Kwan. But, I don`t like to be compared to Nam Na-ri." What she means is that she will win the gold medal in the Olympics as well as in the World Championship like Kwan, a Chinese-American who stands on top of the world in figure skating.

She also means she does not want to be treated like Nam Na-ri, who won the second place in the `98 US Championship and faded out of people`s memory.

That is why she spends extra hours to build up her physical strength in addition to 4 hours of skating every day. To learn the cutting-edge techniques, she spends two months every year in US.

Kim’s dream is to achieve the gold medal in the 2006 Olympics, which is also the dream of all Korean figure skaters. And it is not far away to see the dream come true.

Jong-Koo Yang yjongk@donga.com