February 16

South Korea’s Kim taking Olympics like a job

The gold medal figure skating favorite shows little flair or emotion when training.

By Barry Wilner
Ap Sports Writer

SOCHI, Russia – Don’t judge Yuna Kim’s workouts by her body language.

click image to enlarge

Yuna Kim of South Korea wipes her face during a practice session at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics Sunday.

The Associated Press

Nothing could be more misleading.

The defending champion figure skater from South Korea is approaching the Sochi Olympics like a job. So when she appears to be uninterested in practice, well, forget about it.

Kim gets it done. There’s little or no flair and she expresses virtually no emotion. Kim seems to be a totally different skater in training than when she is performing.

She wasn’t particularly pleased with everything Sunday, cutting short her run-through halfway through the music.

“It was not great today and I think the ice was not good,” Kim said through a translator. “But it was not a big problem.”

For Kim, these games are a much different environment from four years ago when she enchanted the sports world with two brilliant programs.

“I don’t think these Olympics are special for me like Vancouver was,” said 23-year-old Kim, who is widely referred to as “Queen Yuna” in South Korea. “Those were my first Olympics and I wanted to win them very badly, and I did win them. Now I am experienced in the Olympics. I want to win them just the same, yes, but the experience is not the same.

“I have learned from the first Olympics, of course. When I went to my first Olympic Games, I experienced all of the pressure and was able to win the gold medal. I try not to feel the pressure and I try not to be nervous when I am on the ice and when I compete.”

Instead, she gets down to business.

That business included some extra work on her triple lutz, which she popped during her run-through. Kim attended to that issue by hitting two triple lutzes later in the training session.

She will need all of her lutzes and flips and loops in the women’s event that begins Wednesday to hold off Russian sensation Julia Lipnitskaia. The 15-year-old rising star won the short and long programs in the team event for which South Korea didn’t qualify.

“The Russian girls just went from juniors into seniors and now they have their first Olympic Games, and me, I am in my second Olympics,” Kim said, apparently finding an advantage there. “They are not as experienced at it, but it is fun to be in your first Olympics.

“The Russian athletes have gotten better and better since Vancouver.”

She never mentioned Lipnitskaia by name.

It has not been all business for Kim, who practiced at the Olympic site for the first time on Thursday. She spent much of Saturday in the Iceberg – but she was in the stands watching her South Korea teammates in short track speedskating.

The results were not what she expected: one silver in two events for South Korea.

“The Korean speed skaters didn’t show their best,” she said. “They were so good in Vancouver and many (people) in South Korea thought they would do as well here, that they would do their best. But they did not on the ice yesterday.”

AP Sports Writer Rachel Cohen contributed to this story.

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