|Kim Yu-na(Yonhap News)|
South Korean figure skater Kim Yu-na will take to the ice midway through the short program at her much-anticipated season debut in Croatia this week.
Kim on Thursday drew 15th among 24 skaters for the short program at the Golden Spin of Zagreb. The short program is scheduled for Friday, and Kim will start her routine at 3:14 p.m. local time (11:14 p.m. in South Korea).
The 24 participants will be paired into four groups of six, with an intermission for ice resurfacing to follow after each group finishes the program. Kim will be the third skater in the third group to perform.
The free skate will take place on Saturday at this minor competition.
Kim, the reigning Olympic gold medalist and two-time world champion, will be competing for the first time this season here, after suffering a foot injury in September.
She was forced to withdraw from both of her scheduled appearances in the International Skating Union (ISU) Grand Prix events in October and November, and then announced in early November that she was healthy enough to compete in Croatia for a tune-up ahead of the Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia next February.
Kim will attempt to become only the third woman to repeat as the Olympic figure skating champion. She has already said Sochi will be her last Olympics.
This week, Kim will also unveil her new programs. Her short program has been choreographed to "Send in the Clowns," a ballad from the 1973 musical, "A Little Night Music." She will perform her free skate to "Adios Nonino," a tango piece from 1959.
After completing her practice of the free skate program on Thursday, Kim expressed confidence that she will be rounding into form in time for the Sochi Winter Games.
"Any athlete is exposed to dangers of injuries during training," Kim said. "There is still some time left before the Olympics, and I don't foresee any problem getting ready. As long as I don't get too nervous, I think I should be able to skate well here this week."
Kim hasn't competed since winning her second world title nine months ago, but she has already dealt with extended layoffs in her career.
She skipped the ISU Grand Prix events in the 2010-2011 season and finished second in the 2011 world championships in April.
Then Kim sat out the entire 2011-2012 season while contemplating her future career options, and ended her hiatus in December 2012 at the NRW Trophy, a minor event in Germany.
She won it easily and went on to capture the South Korean national championship in January this year before taking the world championship two months later in Canada. (Yonhap News)