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[Newsmaker] Kim on track to 2nd Olympic title

Reigning figure skating champion Kim Yu-na of South Korea stepped closer to her Olympic goal in Sochi next year with a magical comeback victory at the world championships in Canada.

The 23-year-old dominated the competition in London, Ontario, on Sunday to take the crown with a combined overall score of 218.31 points. She won the women’s short program with 69.97 points Friday, and the free skate with 148.34 points Sunday. 
Kim Yu-na (Yonhap News)
Kim Yu-na (Yonhap News)

Her championship title is also a boon to Korea, as it qualifies the country to send three skaters to the Sochi Olympics. It is the first time Korea has secured three Olympic tickets in figure skating.

To Kim, the championship title is significant in that it gave her an advantageous position on her way to her second successive Olympic gold medal. The competition is the largest behind the Olympic Games.

It is her second world championship win after standing on top of the podium in the Los Angeles championship four years ago.

In LA, she made history by exceeding 200 points for the first time in women’s figure skating. High spirits and self-confidence led to her grabbing the gold medal in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

At the Vancouver Olympics, she stunned the world with 228.56 points for a clean, or error-less, performance in both the short program and free skate.

Experts estimate the chance for the last champion before the Olympics to take home another Olympic gold medal at 77 percent. If Kim beats the others in Sochi, Russia, she will become the first Olympian in 26 years after Katarina Witt of Germany to win two Olympic gold medals in a row.

Breaking a self-imposed hiatus of one year and eight months, she demonstrated her rustless skills by sweeping the NRW Trophy late last year, the national championship in January this year and then the world championship.

She appears to be regaining most of her prime style. In the 2013 world championships, she was far ahead of the pack, with Carolina Kostner of Italy in second scoring 197.89 and Mao Asada of Japan in third with 196.47.

The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics are 11 months away. If Kim keeps up her excellent form and improves her skills until she takes on the ice in Sochi, the gold medal is practically around her neck.

By Chun Sung-woo (swchun@heraldcorp.com)
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