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Kim Yu-na Set to Defend World Title in Turin

Posted March. 23, 2010 02:58,   


Kim Yu-na has begun practicing for the World Figure Skating Championships, the final event of the 2009-10 season that opens today in Turin, Italy.

Fresh off her mesmerizing performance at the Vancouver Winter Olympics, where she cruised to the gold medal with a record score of 228.56, Kim arrived in Turin and rested yesterday.

The defending world champion has been unbeatable this season, winning all four events starting with the first Grand Prix event in Paris in October last year.

Kim can be the first figure skater to win back-to-back world titles since Michelle Kwan of the U.S. in 2000 and 2001. Highly-ranked competitors such as Olympic silver medalist Mao Asada, Miki Ando and Akiko Suzuki of Japan and Carolina Kostner of Italy will take part in the Turin event, but Kim again will be the heavy favorite.

Since the 1980s, only three figure skaters have won the world title for two straight years: Katarina Witt of East Germany (1984-85, 1987-88), Kristi Yamaguchi of the U.S. (1991-92), and Michelle Kwan.

Kim can also become the first to win the Olympic and world titles in the same season since Yamaguchi, who pulled off the double in 1992. Other Olympic champions such as Oksana Baiul of Ukraine, who won the gold at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, Tara Lipinski and Sarah Hughes of the U.S., and Shizuka Arakawa of Japan snubbed the world championships after winning Olympic gold.

The results of this year’s world championships will affect the number of Korean figure skaters to compete in next year’s tournament. If the combined rankings of Kim and Kwak Min-jung are under 13, three Koreans can enter the competition in 2011, the most in Korean history.

If Kim wins the gold as expected, Kwak should finish within the top 12. This is within Kwak’s reach since she finished 13th in the Winter Olympics.