Luck of the draw pits Kim against rival Asada

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Luck of the draw pits Kim against rival Asada

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Kim Yu-na, left, and Mao Asada at the women’s figure skating short program draw at the press conference room of the Pacific Coliseum yesterday morning. [YONHAP]

The much-awaited women’s figure skating event is near, and the draw for the short program held yesterday put Kim Yu-na rivalry with Mao Asada of Japan in the spotlight.

In lots drawn at the press conference room of the Pacific Coliseum yesterday morning, the 19-year-old was picked to compete in a group with Asada, Laura Lepisto of Finland, Alena Leonova of Russia and Akiko Suzuki of Japan in the women’s short program, starting at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow.

Not only have the two been grouped together but Asada will skate one spot before Kim in the short program. The 30 skaters were divided into six groups and Kim will be the 23rd, or the third skater in the fifth group, to skate in the short program, while Asada will skate 22nd overall.

“It would have been better if I got to skate first in the group but I’m satisfied with the draw,” Kim said to the press. “I just wanted to avoid being the last skater of the group. It would have been better to be the first skater.”

Kim is a strong favorite to win the gold medal in her Olympic debut, with Agence France-Presse going so far as to state that she is the biggest favorite since Peggy Fleming in 1968.

Kim will face challenges, however, from 2008 World Champion Asada and 2007 World Champion Miki Ando, among other world-class skaters.

Kim and Asada will compete against each other for the first time since the 2009-10 International Skating Union Grand Prix season opener Trophee Eric Bompard in Paris last October. Kim went on to set the world record with a combined score of 210.03 points in the event while Asada finished second with a combined score of 173.99 points. Kim won all three events she entered this season including Skate America and the Grand Prix Final.

Asada, on the other hand, finished second at the Eric Bompard and fifth in Grand Prix Moscow before salvaging a win at the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in Jeonju, North Jeolla last month with a season high of 183.06 combined points.

Kwak Min-jung, 16, will make her Olympic debut as the fourth skater in the second group.


By Jason Kim [jason@joongang.co.kr]
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