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Kim Yu-na Gets New Coach in Peter Oppegard

Posted October. 08, 2010 00:47,   


Olympic figure skating champion Kim Yu-na has a new coach.

At a news conference Tuesday at East West Ice Palace in suburban Los Angeles, her management agency AT Sports said it hired Peter Oppegard to coach Kim.

○ Who is Oppegard?

The 20-year-old Kim has been training in Los Angeles since she left Toronto, where she and her former Canadian coach Brian Orser had worked together for the past four years. She also continued working with choreographer David Wilson after her split with Orser.

Two weeks ago, Kim and Oppegard began discussing the possibility of him coaching her.

Oppegard won three U.S. pairs titles with Jill Watson, and was inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 2004. He and Watson also won the bronze medal at the 1987 world championships and the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics.

○ Coaching career

Oppegard has mostly coached pairs skaters, with the most prominent being John Baldwin and Rena Inoue, who won the 2006 Four Continents Figure Skating Championships. He has little experience in coaching solo skaters, though his pupil Angela Nikodinov won the ladies singles title at the 2000 Four Continents.

Oppegard has not coached a female solo skater since Nikodinov. He once coached Korean-American skater Naomi Nari Nam for the pairs competition.

The coach said he prefers coaching a solo skater, however. "I find it easier," he said. "It will be a singular focus on Yu-na."

○ Why Oppegard?

Kim appears to have hired Oppegard rather than a more high-profile figure because she apparently thinks he can help her mentally. Kim is training at East West Ice Palace, where her idol and five-time world champion Michelle Kwan trained and where Oppegard coaches his skaters.

Oppegard is married to Kwan`s older sister. Kim and Kwan’s close relationship appears to have encouraged the Korean to name Oppegard as her coach.

“He has a very calm and collected manner in teaching students. I think he’ll help me a lot mentally as well," Kim said.