Yu-na set to defend her world champion title

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Yu-na set to defend her world champion title

Olympic figure skating gold medalist Kim Yu-na is heading to Italy to defend her world championship title.

The 19-year-old skater aims to become the first woman skater to win the World Figure Skating Championships for two consecutive years in nearly a decade. American Michelle Kwan lifted trophies in 2000 and 2001.

The competition kicks off today, Italy time, with compulsory dance, pairs short program in the Italian city of Turin. Kim will compete in the ladies short program on Friday and the free skating on Saturday. Kim said during a brief visit to Korea last month that she would enjoy the upcoming competition “comfortably.”

Kim won a gold medal at the Vancouver Games with a record 228.56 points, routing rivals Mao Asada of Japan and Joannie Rochette of Canada by more than 20 points. Although Olympic bronze medalist Rochette will not compete at Turin, silver medalist Asada and her compatriots Miki Ando and Akiko Suzuki, along with Italian Carolina Kostner, are strong contenders for the podium.

Asada, who has had a heated rivalry with Kim since they both entered senior level competition in 2006, has vowed to beat Kim at Turin.

Kim’s teammate Kwak Min-jung, who finished 13th with a personal best performance in Vancouver, will make her world championship debut as she and Kim work together to bring home three berths for next year’s world championships in Japan.

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