MOSCOW (AFP) ― Figure skating superstars Kim Yu-na and Mao Asada will rekindle their long-running rivalry in the relocated world figure skating championships starting here on Monday.
The championships, originally scheduled to take place in Tokyo a month ago, were moved to Russia following the devastating earthquake and tsunami on March 11. All four reigning champions are back to defend their titles with the highlight the rematch between South Korea’s Kim and Japan’s Asada which dominated the 2010 season.
Olympic champion Kim beat Asada to gold in Vancouver but has not competed since losing her world title to Asada in Turin last year. Since then Kim split with Brian Orser, the coach who had helped her win Olympic gold, for reasons that remain unclear, and now trains in California with former Olympic pairs medalist Peter Oppegard.
Kim Yu-na leads Mao Asada 7-6 in a rivalry going back six years. (Yonhap News)
In the absence of her perennial rival, two-time world champion Asada has struggled this season, overshadowed by compatriot Miki Ando, the 2007 world champion, and settling for silver at nationals.
But the scene is nevertheless set for a much-anticipated clash between the Asian golden girls with Kim the favorite if she hits all her jumps and skates cleanly. She leads Asada 7-6 in a rivalry going back six years.
Podium challengers include Grand Prix final winner Alissa Czisny of the United States, three-time uropean champion Carolina Kostner of Italy and American Rachael Flatt.