Kim Yu-na gears up for Olympic challenge

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Kim Yu-na gears up for Olympic challenge

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Figure skating star Kim Yu-Na

WINNIPEG, Canada - South Korean figure skating star Kim Yu-Na is no longer considered totally unbeatable heading into next month’s Olympic Winter Games, and her Canadian coach Brian Orser considers that a good thing.

Reigning world champion Kim, 19, looked invincible and was considered by many as a sure bet for a gold medal in the Games after her first Grand Prix competition of the season. In Paris, she soared above the field with a highest-ever women’s total score of 210.03 points. Miscues a few weeks later at Skate America and at last month’s Grand Prix Final in Tokyo, however, have given her rival hope that they can outperform Kim under the Olympic rings in Vancouver. Still, she did win those two events despite slumping scores that were some 22 points off her best.

“Her first Grand Prix was great and she’s had a good short and a good long [program] since then, but she’s also been beaten in the short and the long as well, which I think is good,” Orser said in a telephone interview from Toronto. “I think it would be tough for her to go to the Olympics completely unbeatable. That’s what everybody was saying: She’s unbeatable. But, she’s not. She is beatable.

“This way she trains accordingly and she’ll be competitive. That’s the spirit you have to have,” added Orser, who won Olympic silver in 1984 and again in 1988 in Calgary, where he co-starred with Brian Boitano in the “Battle of the Brians.”

The first week in January marked the beginning of what Orser called “the home stretch” in Kim’s Olympic season training plan.

“She is training really, really well and really, really hard. That’s exactly what she needs and what we’re focusing on,” he said.

The expectation is that Kim will claim an Olympic medal, but Orser says she will not be following in his footsteps when it comes to carrying her nation’s flag in the opening ceremonies on Feb. 12. The plan is for Kim to fly from her training base in Toronto on Friday the 19th and do one practice on Saturday, Sunday and Monday ahead of the women’s short program.

Orser, who led Canadian athletes into the Olympic stadium in 1988, resplendent in his white-fringed red overcoat and white Stetson hat, said he doesn’t know if Kim was even considered for the flag-bearer honor since the Korean Olympic Committee knew she would still be training during the Games’ first week.

“She likes to stay put and go in as late as possible. If we went out for the first week, I think it would be distracting for her. She needs to stay focused,” he said. “She’ll watch it on television. She’s cool with that. She doesn’t feel like she’s really missing anything.”

Orser will spend much of the next 12 days travelling to and from Spokane, Washington, where his promising American students Adam Rippon and Christina Gao will compete at the U.S. Championships on subsequent weekends. AFP
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<밴쿠버 태극전사> ① 김연아(피겨)


귀여운 '피겨요정'에서 성숙한 '피겨퀸'으로 진화하며 국제무대에서 우승행진을 거듭해온 김연아(20.고려대)가 꿈에 그리던 2010 밴쿠버 동계올림픽 개막을 눈앞에 두고 한국 피겨 역사상 최초의 금메달을 향한 위대한 도전에 나선다.

2009 국제빙상경기연맹(ISU) 세계선수권대회 챔피언, 2009 ISU 4대륙선수권대회챔피언, ISU 시니어 그랑프리 파이널 3차례 우승(2006년, 2007년, 2009년), ISU 시니어 그랑프리 시리즈 총 7차례 우승까지 김연아는 2006년 시니어 무대에 데뷔한 이후 쉼없는 우승 행진을 펼쳐왔다.

김연아는 금메달뿐 아니라 2007년과 2008년 세계선수권대회에서 연속 동메달을 차지했고, 2008년 ISU 그랑프리 파이널 은메달 획득까지 출전해서 단 한 차례도 메달을 목에 걸지 않았던 적이 없을 정도로 국제무대에서 독보적인 활약을 펼쳐왔다.

한국 나이로 7살이었던 1996년 처음 피겨 스케이트에 발을 들여놓은 김연아는 10년 만에 세계 정상급 선수로 성장해 피겨의 변방이었던 한국을 국제무대에 널리 알린 최고의 선수로 주목을 받고 있다.

김연아의 우수성은 단순히 메달의 개수에 머물지 않는다. '교과서 점프'와 '정석 점프'라는 칭찬을 받을 만큼 완벽한 기술을 바탕으로 정확한 에지(스케이트날)와뛰어난 비거리를 앞세워 경쟁 선수들보다 한 차원 높은 연기를 보여주는 게 김연아의 장점이다.

특히 이번 시즌 쇼트프로그램과 프리스케이팅의 첫 과제로 쓰는 트리플 러츠(3Lz)-트리플 토루프(3T) 콤비네이션 점프(기본점 10점)는 역대 여자 싱글 최고인 2.2점의 가산점(GOE)을 얻었을 정도로 뛰어난 기술력을 인정받았다.
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