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`Queen Yu-na` Had Plenty of Help From Her Court

Posted March. 30, 2009 09:27,   


Newly crowned figure skating world champion Kim Yu-na stood atop the winner’s podium at Staples Center in Los Angeles yesterday. The Korean flag was raised and Korea’s national anthem was played.

Her record-breaking victory at the World Figure Skating Championships has been attributed to her innate talent and ceaseless efforts. A lot of people, however, have helped her to reach the top.

○ Coach Brian Orser

One of the most critical contributors to Kim’s success is her Canadian coach Brian Orser, a two-time Olympic silver medalist. He has barely left her side since becoming her coach, rejoicing over Kim’s superb performances and fretting over her mistakes.

Kim met Orser in May 2006 while training in Toronto, Canada, to prepare for her senior debut. At that time, he was head instructor at the Toronto Cricket Skating and Curling Club.

In November the same year, he became Kim`s full-time coach.

Orser is one of the most accomplished Canadian skaters with eight national titles and a world championship. He failed, however, to win gold in the 1984 and 1988 Winter Olympics.

“Because Orser has had similar experiences to mine, he knows well how much burden I feel. So he makes me practice comfortably,” Kim said.

○ Kim’s mother

When Kim shed tears, her mother Park Mi-hee cried with her. Kim has her own coach, physical therapist, manager and chauffeur, but her mother had assumed all of these roles before her daughter hit the big time.

When Kim was six in 1996, an indoor ice rink was opened in her neighborhood of Gwacheon, Gyeonggi Province. Park let her daughter skate for fun at first. After hearing that Kim had a talent for skating, Park tuned into a devoted “figure skating mom.”

When Kim thought of giving up skating due to injury, her mother’s drive to make her daughter a world-class competitor helped Kim keep going.

○ Exclusive training team

World-class choreographer David Wilson played a huge part in making Kim a world champion. Having previously worked with stars such as Olympic silver medalist Sasha Cohen of the United States, he began working with Kim in 2006 when she trained in Canada.

Wilson said he is confident of his program but Kim has exceeded his expectations.

Physical therapist Song Jae-hyeong, who checked Kim’s condition all the way to the rink, and her agent Kim Won-min of IB Sports also deserve credit for her success.

Kim has also impressed with her fluent English. Though she stopped getting English lessons in September last year, Kim has learned the language while living in Canada.

For her, Canada is her second home. She has trained there and met her coach. Her next target is the gold medal at next year’s Vancouver Olympics.