South Korean figure skating star Kim Yu-na said Friday she will participate in the world championships rescheduled and relocated from quake-stricken Japan to take place in Russia late next month.
In a statement released by her Seoul-based agency, All That Sports, Kim said she is looking forward to training for the 2011 World Figure Skating Championships, which will be held in Moscow from April 24-May 1.
The event had been set for March 21-27 in Tokyo but was moved after a devastating earthquake and the ensuing radioactive scare in Japan. The International Skating Union (ISU) made the change late Thursday, Korean time.
"I've been away from training for about two weeks since I came home (last Sunday)," Kim said. She flew back from her training camp in Los Angeles after the Tokyo event was put on hold, and has since served as an honorary ambassador for PyeongChang, a South Korean alpine town bidding for the 2018 Winter Olympics.
"I am not sure if I can bring myself back to top shape, but I will stay focused on training until the world championships," Kim said.
Kim, the reigning Olympic gold medalist and the 2009 world champion, hasn't competed since last year's world championships in Torino, Italy. After landing in South Korea last Sunday, Kim said she had worked herself into top shape, almost on par with her Olympic form when she set the world records in short program (78.50), free skating (150.06) and total points (228.56).
All That Sports said Kim, who didn't come with her coach Peter Oppegard last week, will not return to Los Angeles. Instead, Oppegard will fly in to join Kim in Seoul.
As part of her ambassadorship for PyeongChang, Kim had been scheduled to fly to London with PyeongChang bid officials and give a presentation during the April 3-8 SportAccord Convention, a gathering of leaders of international sports federations.
Without elaborating, All That Sports said it will try to help Kim concentrate only on her training and preparations for the world championships. The agency added her ice show, set for May 6-8 in Seoul with former Olympic gold medalists and world champions on hand, will go on as scheduled.
The championships will take place at the Megasport Arena in Russia. It has been the site of the Cup of Russia, an ISU Grand Prix event, the past three seasons.
Kim said she has fond memories of the arena. At the 2007 Cup of Russia, she set the then world record of 133.70 points in free skating.
"Megasport Arena is a beautiful place, and Russian fans were really great," Kim said. "I am really pleased that it was picked as the venue for the world championships."
The United States, Canada, Finland, Croatia and Austria had also offered to host the world championships either in late April or early May. After Russia submitted its bid, Vladimir Putin, the Russian prime minister, offered his support by saying, "This is not a very expensive event and we are capable of taking care of all the expenses." (Yonhap News)