Ex-coach baffled by ‘mother-ordered’ split

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Ex-coach baffled by ‘mother-ordered’ split

WINNIPEG, Canada - Brian Orser sees a bright future for Korean figure skating sensation Kim Yu-Na, but he still remains unsure about why he was fired as her coach by the mother of the Vancouver Olympic champion.

Before former Canadian Olympian Orser revealed publicly Tuesday that he had been dismissed, he and co-coach Tracy Wilson had a chat with Kim after weeks of tense times at the Toronto training rink they still share.

“Last Thursday, Tracy and I pulled her aside, brought her into the office and said, ‘Everything feels a bit awkward around here. We don’t know what’s going on and we’re kind of confused,’” Orser said in a telephone interview.

“She said, ‘I am, too. I don’t know what’s going on.’ She had some tears in her eyes.”

Orser, a 1984 and 1988 Olympic silver medalist, is still at a loss to understand why Kim’s mother, Park Meehee, told him and Wilson at a meeting in early August that their services were no longer required.

“Yu-Na needed to know this had been done. She knew something was up. This was two-and-a-half weeks after the fact and we tried to let everything go along and perhaps there might be a change, but nothing was happening,” Orser said.

Orser said he and Wilson told Kim, who turns 20 on Sept. 5, that, “We’ve had four wonderful years with you. Whatever you decide to do, we’ll support you. We love you and just want the best for you.”

Orser was troubled by news reports that indicated he cut Kim loose.

“Who in their right mind would do that with such a fantastic talent and a fantastic relationship?” Orser asked rhetorically.

With work on routines for a new season about to begin, Orser wanted the news out sooner rather than later, fearing that it would take attention away from competitors on the Grand Prix circuit if kept secret any longer.

Kim withdrew from her Grand Prix assignments but said she will compete at the 2011 World Championships in Tokyo.

Despite Orser’s announcement of the split, Kim was at their Toronto skating club Tuesday afternoon working on her new long program with choreographer David Wilson.

“It is a fantastic program, by far the best one I’ve seen,” Orser said. “It is well beyond even her [Olympic program] Concerto in F. It’s a complete departure.”

The routine is set to a compilation of Korean music, featuring the famous folk song “Arirang,” Orser revealed.

Kim’s short program will be choreographed by Canadian ice dancer Shae-Lynn Bourne on Labor Day weekend.

Orser had no idea what Kim might do now for coaching, but feels there is little chance he will be involved. Still, he is not closing the door.

“If I was approached by Yu-Na, it would definitely be a consideration,” said Orser. “I want the best for this girl.”

For now, though, the man who coached the teenager to superstardom is content to mentor up-and-coming U.S. skaters Adam Rippon and Christina Gao, who moved to Toronto to train with him last year.

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