The countdown to the 2014 Winter Olympics and the women’s figure skating has begun in earnest.
Fans would be forgiven for thinking that it is all about Kim Yu-na and Asada Mao. And while there are others in the picture, the media in Korea and Japan focus on the pair to the exclusion of almost everyone else.
Kim and Asada have been fierce rivals for years and it came to a head in 2010.Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.
Kim blew Mao and the entire field away at the 2010 games in Vancouver with a masterful performance and a world record points score.
Shortly after, Mao came back to clinch the World Championships against her rival that was, perhaps, still recovering from her gold medal success.
Kim has not been seen much since, helping the Korean city of Pyeongchang become successful in its bid to host the 2018 Olympics and working on television and ice galas.
For some, it looked as if she may call time on her competitive career. She admitted that it had been hard to find her motivation after winning gold.
But in July she announced that she would try to repeat the feat at the Sochi games in 2014.
Now, she has gone back to her roots and appointed two of the coaches that made it all possible.
Shin Hye-sook and Ryu Jong-hyun will be helping Kim in her bid for gold.
"They helped me to become who I am in both technical and spiritual ways ever since I began figure skating," Kim said through her agency this week.
"I'd like to do well in competitions to return the favours to coaches who had taught me," the 22-year-old added.
Ryu coached a seven year-old Kim, and three years later, it was Shin’s turn. Now, they will work together with Kim responsible for overall training and Ryu fitness and condition.
The short-term object is the world championships in March 2013.
The return of Kim could revitalize women’s skating. As she was absent last season, along with another Japanese star Miki Ando, and Mao not at her best, the situation has been flat.
But even if Kim falls flat or, as expected, shines before retiring for good, there is a new generation coming through to replace her –Yuna’s kids.
Earlier this month, Kim Hae-jin won the Junior Grand Prix in Slovenia, the first Korean skater since the ‘Queen,’ Kim Yu-na, to win such a title. Just before that, Park So-young finished second at a similar event in Turkey.
Kim Yu-na may make her last appearance in 2014 but her exploits could help Korea become a power in the sport for years to come.