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Kim Yu-na: New Ice Skating Queen

Posted December. 18, 2006 07:04,   


In March 2003 at the Korean Figure Skating Championship held on the ice-rink of Taereung Training Center in Seoul, the audience got noisy after the result of the singles women’s event was announced. A first-year girl of a junior high school, who was just 12 years and six months old, won the championship, defeating other much older members of the Korean national team.

What this small girl (height: 148cm, weight 35 kg) said during the award ceremony made people grin. She said, “I will become a better figure skater than Michelle Kwan.” At the time, Kwan was the single greatest female skater, winning the world championship five times. Korea, on the other hand, remained largely unknown for figure skating.

Three years and nine months have passed since then. Kim Yu-na (16, first grader at Suri High School, 161cm, 43kg), the small girl, beat world class figure skaters to win a gold medal in the Senior Grand Prix Final held at St. Petersburg yesterday.

A series of world media outlets reported the news of Kim’s victory. The AFP was “Rising Korean Star Kim joins world elite.”

Kim, who started figure skating when she was six years old just before entering elementary school, secured the world-class ranking exactly in 10 years. Kim’s mother, Park Mi-hee (47) dreamed of becoming a figure skater during her girlhood but married and became a housewife. However, she found exceptional talent in her second daughter Yu-na and ushered her into the figure skating world.

The mother and daughter’s efforts to be the world’s top were tireless and touching. Park excluded everything in her life except taking care of Kim. Park studied figure skating by herself and as a result, she is now an expert. Starting this season, Park has been living all day with Kim, performing the role of a manager and a coach.

Kim, herself, was tireless. Kim’s father Kim Hyun-seok (49) said of his daughter, “she never showed displeasure over training while training for more than five hours a day. She didn’t take off skating shoes until she was satisfied with her technique.”

A strong mentality for her age was Kim’s biggest weapon in international competitions. Kim almost had to give up participating in this championship due to a back pain, but after taking a painkiller, she showed her best performance with bandages around her waist. On the other hand, Kim’s rival, Mao Asada (16), last year’s champion, made several mistakes during her performance.

Even after getting this great result in her first year in a senior competition, Kim said, “I regret things a bit because I made some mistakes in free skating since I was not in good condition,” and added,” I want to win another gold medal in the Winter Asian Games (Changchun, China) one month away.”