|South Korean figure skater Kim Yu-na practices for the first time at Iceberg Skating Palace, site of the ladies` singles competition at the Sochi Winter Olympics, on Tuesday. (Yonhap)|
On the eve of the start of her Olympic title defense in the ladies' singles figure skating, South Korean star Kim Yu-na said she could hardly wait to get on the ice.
"I've prepared hard and I can't wait for the day of the competition to arrive," Kim told reporters after completing her practice at Iceberg Skating Palace, where the ladies' short program is scheduled to open on Wednesday. It will be followed by the free skating on Thursday.
"I think my preparation has been perfect," Kim said. "But figure skating is a fickle sport and you never know what can happen. I can't guarantee my preparation will translate into the actual competition."
Kim is aiming to become just the third figure skater to win consecutive Olympic gold medals in the ladies' singles. In Vancouver four years ago, Kim came through with an awe-inspiring performance, earning 228.56 points in total, a record score under the revamped judging scale.
Having gone through extended breaks from competition since then, Kim said it's impossible to compare herself today to the skater that she was in 2010.
"I was at my peak in Vancouver," she said. "Today, I am trying to get to that level."
Kim will perform her short program as the 17th among 30 skaters in the field. Because she missed the majority of the season with a foot injury sustained in September, she lags behind some of her rivals in the world rankings.
That relegated Kim to the middle of the pack, while higher-ranked skaters have been grouped into late pairings.
Kim said the setting may work to her advantage because she doesn't have to skate right before or after other medal contenders.
Kim insisted, however, that she will "stay focused on my own performance."
Mao Asada of Japan, the silver medalist behind Kim in Vancouver, will skate last. Yulia Lipnitskaya of Russia, a teenage sensation who helped the host country win the inaugural team competition last week, will be the 25th skater. (Yonhap)