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Figure Prodigy Kim Yeon-a Becomes Princess of the Ice

Posted September. 05, 2004 22:12,   


She fell on her buttocks in the middle of her performance, but she stood up right away and continued, as if nothing had happened, with jumps that could be compared with those of senior stars. The stout performance impressed the judges.

Korea’s top fairy of the ice, Kim Yeon-a (Goonpo Dojang Junior High School), 14, finally achieved the task.

Kim won the championship yesterday in the Second Junior Grand Prix Figure Skating of the International Skating Union that finished in Budapest, Hungary. Her final score was 148.55, which easily beat the 136.16 earned by Japan’s “next generation queen” Sawada Aki.

Since skating was introduced in Korea in 1908, this is the first victory in an international game, both in adult and in junior games, for Korea.

Kim Yeon-a lost control and fell during her short program on Saturday. In a figure performance, falling is considered an unrecoverable mistake. Nonetheless, she got right back up and continued with a perfect performance that didn’t show even a bit of distraction.

Her triple-jump combination was the performance that even seniors cannot easily do. She turned three times in one jump, twice in a row. What she did was something that requires hard-to-master techniques. As a result, the judges gave her 47.23, the best score in the short program, despite her mistake. Sawada received 46.70 to come in second.

Yesterday in the free skating, Kim also won first place, with her score of 101.32, besting Sawada’s 89.46. Kim performed perfect triple jumps six times. Sawada, who has been in the spotlight since winning third in the World Junior Championship Game, one level up from the Grand Prix, was behind Kim in both short program and free skating. U.S. skater Cathy Tailor, 15, who won the fifth place in the World Junior Championship Game, fell behind Kim too.

Kim has been known as a “figure prodigy” and bested her seniors in junior high, middle school, and college, even when she was in elementary school. She is 1 meter, 56 centimeters tall and weighs 38 kilograms, which is an ideal body. In addition, she is the only skater in Korea who can perform all triple jumps freely. Her inspiration is Michelle Kwan, the Chinese-American who conquered the world figure games.

After winning, Kim called her mother, Park Mi-hi, 45, and said, “I cut the kids down to size. Didn’t I do a good job? Watch me. I will make even bigger achievements.”

Kim Yeon-a will come home tomorrow and leave again to play in the fourth Grand Prix that will be held in Harbin, China on Sept. 16. She can play in the Grand Prix final that will be held in Helsinki, Finland in December, if she becomes one of the top players in the Harbin game. The Grand Prix final is where eight top skaters compete to distinguish the world’s best junior player.

Jong-Koo Yang yjongk@donga.com