Tuesday, August 24

The Yu-Na Drama

Photo courtesy daylife.com
A month and a half ago, I reported some details that were passed along from Toronto. Among the news was Yu-Na Kim not yet having new competitive programs and a suggestion that she was focusing her efforts more towards endorsements and her own projects. Very shortly thereafter, Kim notified the press (upon arrival to Korea for her All That Skate show) that she was going to skip the Grand Prix series and focus all of her attention towards the World Championships next March.

Flashback to a month after her Olympic win, during the 2010 World Championships in Torino. Yu-Na made mistakes on three of the eight elements in the short program and found herself sitting in seventh place, outside the final group for the free skate. While no one saw that coming, the gossip around the rink during the week was that Yu-Na was basically forced to skate at Worlds, and some of the other skaters were quite sure that she simply didn't want to be there. It was initially believed that one of the reasons for Kim showing up to compete was because she had elected to skip the Four Continents Championships in her home country (because of the sparse amount of time between that and the Olympics), and in turn was 'required' to show up at Worlds.

Now fast forward to today-- news that Kim has left coach Brian Orser, and there is no reason being given for the move. I knew during my July 8th post that Yu-Na and Brian were not working together, but I thought the reason was that she was either focusing all of her on-the-ice efforts towards being ready for All That Skate, or that she really was planning skipping the season/retirement. So the exhibition came and went, and Yu-Na said that she wasn't retiring.. so what exactly caused the fall-out? Upon hearing the news, I thought that maybe the turmoil started with the whole going to Worlds situation, and maybe Orser was the deciding factor of Kim's participation... however, that's probably not the case. This article mentions that the tension might have started in May, when rumors surfaced about Orser possibly agreeing to coach her main competitor, Mao Asada. Orser refuted the rumors, and I highly doubt that he would take her on without having some kind of discussion with Yu-Na prior to Asada just showing up in Toronto.

So, all we have for now is a bunch speculation. I know that Yu-Na has said she will have two new competitive programs choreographed by David Wilson (who, by the way, she continues to work with), but she has another show coming up in October while most other top skaters will be competing in a pro-am competition in Japan the same weekend. As far as I know, she doesn't have an actual 'coach' yet, and while Asada might be in the same boat with the coaching situation, I'm still questioning whether Kim returns at all.

By the way, Min-Jung Kwak (the other Korean ladies entry at the Olympics and Worlds), has also left Orser. I suppose there is a whole lot more that will come out of this story in the next few days.

Edit: Since writing this post, Randy Starkman of The Star has written an article and Philip Hersh has posted his own blog entry which includes quotes from a teleconference with Orser earlier today.


Tonichelle said...

It's amazing how quick the turn around has been. Yesterday morning Orser was GOD to a lot of Kim fans... now he's worse than the devil himself.

Brian doesn't deserve the controversy.

Meri said...

I've read in several places that Yu-Na's SP will actually be choreographed by Shae-Lynn Bourne. Though that might mean a Wilson-Bourne collaboration, like they're doing for Brian Joubert's and Kiira Korpi's LPs.

I'm very curious about the role played by Yu-Na's mother in all this. She's not the first example most people think of when skating moms are mentioned, but she seems to be extremely ambitious and driven when it comes to her daughter's career.

Anonymous said...

I doubt if Brian is being painted as the devil incarnate. It just doesn't gibe with what most of us have observed. I would tend to believe that YuNa's mother played a far more dominant role in all of this. The key is who or what forced her to compete at Worlds this year. My sense is that perhaps the who is disgruntled with YuNa's showing at Worlds and Brian is being made the scapegoat.