Kim Yu-na transcends medalsSouth Korea’s queen of figure skating Kim Yu-na demonstrated that the color of a medal does not necessarily make much of a difference in defining a true victor.
Her farewell performance was very graceful, flawless and miraculous, even if the seemingly biased panel of judges at the Sochi Olympics did not think so, preferring the 17-year-old Russian Adelina Sotnikova instead for the gold.
Experts and audiences alike called Kim’s final competition performance on ice in Thursday’s free program skating beyond comparison and expected her to win the first back-to-back Olympic golds since Katarina Witt in 1984 and 1988. Kim outshone all her competitors with her usual grace, confidence and impeccable techniques that prevailed over deafening roars and cheers from the home audience for its skaters. But what made Kim truly extraordinary was her composure off the ice rink.
Kim scored a relatively high combined score of 219.11, but even one less triple jump does not explain why she finished so far behind the Russian’s 224.59, especially given Sotnikova’s misstep in one of her combinations. Koreans were not the only
ones bewildered by the result. “I am stunned,” said Katarina Witt herself on German TV. “I don’t understand the scoring.” International media questioned the extent home-ice advantage played, along with the anonymity of the judges. Some called it scandalous, claiming Kim was robbed of her gold.
But Kim appeared unconcerned about the uproar. When her scores were announced, she smiled gracefully to the camera. In the flower ceremony, she kept her composure, smiled and clapped for the other women she stood next to on the podium.
When reporters asked about the scores, she refused to take the bait. “I did all I wanted to do, like I wanted to do it,” she said. “I did all I can. It is the judges who give out the points, and I can’t do anything about that.”
She demonstrated true sportsmanship and said that what mattered to her was doing her best and that she had no regrets. The 23-year-old’s show of inner strength and modesty beamed above any Olympic crown. Having lived with the enormous pressure of expectations from home, she had briefly considered retiring after her stunning gold-medal feat in Vancouver four years ago. But she returned to compete, in part to earn Olympic tickets for younger Korean skaters.
Her mentality was as strong as her skills on the ice. Scores are numbers, she said, as if to epitomize her pride in ascending to the top of the world’s figure skating ranks, this young woman from a country little known for its figure skating before her.
The fairy tale may not have ended as she hoped. And we’ll likely be waiting a long time to find another performer as magnificent as she. We celebrate her career and wish her the best in her new path in life.
Yu-na, we thank you and love you.