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Kim can’t wait to get back on ice

South Korean figure skater Kim Yu-na said Friday she is on the right track for the world championships in March and is looking forward to returning to the ice.

In an e-mail interview with her Seoul-based agency, All That Sports, Kim said she’s been gearing up for the championships by building up her strength and focusing on her new programs.

“There’s plenty of time left until the competition,” Kim said of the 2011 World Figure Skating Championships to be held March 21-27 in Tokyo. “I expect myself to be perfectly ready.”

Kim, the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics gold medalist and the 2009 world champion, has not skated competitively since finishing second at the 2010 world championships. The 20-year-old has since done ice shows in South Korea and the U.S. and made other corporate appearances.
Kim Yu-na
Kim Yu-na

But if Kim feels added pressure as she takes to the ice for the first competition in nearly a year, she isn’t showing it.

“I’ve accomplished everything I wanted to accomplish as a skater, and so I am not worried about the result (at this year’s worlds),” Kim said. “I am nervous to be skating the new programs before the fans but I am also excited. I really want to connect with the audience. And if I am well prepared, then the results will follow.”

Kim will perform her short program to a theme from “Giselle,” a classic ballet. Her free skating music will be a compilation of traditional Korean music called “Homage to Korea.” It will include the well-known folk song “Arirang.”

“Technically, I won’t be much different from last season,” the skater said. “My focus is on trying to best express the characters from the music. With ‘Homage to Korea,’ I am trying to convey distinctive Korean emotions on ice.”

Aside from new music, Kim underwent another major change. In August, she had an acrimonious split with then Canadian coach Brian Orser, and later teamed up with Peter Oppegard in October. She has since relocated her training base from Toronto to Los Angeles.

Kim said she has built good chemistry with Oppegard.

“Coach Oppegard tries to instill confidence in me during practices,” she said. “But at the same time, he also sets very demanding training programs and never stops pushing his students.

It can be physically taxing, but I am trying to enjoy myself with other skaters.”

Kim’s year-long absence has fueled speculation that she might retire from amateur skating and turn professional. She said, however, that she is only concentrating on the world championships.

In Tokyo, Kim will face Mao Asada of Japan for the fifth straight world championships. Asada won titles in 2008 and 2010, sandwiching Kim’s lone championship in 2009.

Asada, a distant second to Kim in Vancouver, has struggled all season and barely qualified for this year’s world championships.

Kim said many skaters tend to suffer letdowns after an Olympic Games series and she is only focused on her own performance.

“As long as I can show everything I’ve prepared, I will be satisfied,” Kim said.

She holds the records for the highest points in the short program (78.50), free skating (150.06) and overall points (228.56) under the current figure skating judging scale, all of which were set in Vancouver. (Yonhap News)