Olympic figure skating champion Kim Yu-na, 20, has parted ways with coach Brian Orser, with Kim and Orser announcing their separation through their respective management agencies Tuesday.
The two, however, disagree over who initiated the split.
IMG agent David Baden announced through IMG Korea Tuesday that Orser, 49, and fellow coach Tracy Wilson were informed by AT Sports CEO and Kims mother Park Mi-hee of the separation in Toronto Aug. 2.
Orser also said, Ms. Park informed me of our separation three weeks ago after completing an ice show in Korea, adding, Ive waited three weeks before announcing this because I had expected a change in the intervening period.
The Seoul-based AT Sports, which represents Kim, said Orser was the first to give notice of the separation, adding, We received notice from coach Orser Monday that he would no longer coach Kim Yu-na.
On the reason for the separation, AT Sports said, Since hearing that coach Orser will coach another skater in May, we have maintained an awkward relationship. Kim has effectively been training alone since June.
Early this month, we proposed a grace period to coach Orser and he also agreed to this suggestion, it said. Kim Yu-na has been training with choreographer David Wilson without coach Orser."
So why do the two sides disagree over who was the first to announce the separation? More than anything, Kim and Orser are apparently wary of public criticism over their split considering their close partnership since 2006.
Under Orser, Kim has claimed a string of international championships and the gold medal at this years Vancouver Winter Olympics. The two even co-starred in a TV commercial in Korea.
If the two split, speculation and criticism are expected to run rampant over why. The party who triggered the separation will likely face heavy criticism.
Another rumor has it that Orser received an offer to coach Mao Asada of Japan, 20, who is considered Kims chief rival. The coach, however, denied that the separation had anything to do with coaching another skater.
Still another reason could be that AT Sports feels it no longer needs Orsers support irrespective of whether she stays an amateur or goes pro.
Kim will continue training in Toronto until she decides on a new program. Rising Korean prospect Kwak Min-jung, 16, another client of AT Sports, has also severed ties with Orser and will return to Seoul from Toronto.