Extra! Korea

March 31, 2010

Yes, we need more commercials featuring Kim Yu-na

Filed under: advertising, sports — extrakorea @ 2:14 pm

When Kim Yu-na competed in Turin three years ago, she left for Korea soon afterward. However, this time, after winning silver at the recent world championships there, she had a night on the town with two other South Korean skaters, Kwak Min-jung and Kim Min-seok. She’s returning to Korea this afternoon.

Kim is slated to shoot eight television commercials for products ranging from electronics to automobiles to dairy items, all of which had been put off to let her concentrate on the Olympics.

If you thought you couldn’t escape seeing Kim Yu-na advertisements before (air conditioners, smoothies, cars, milk, eyeliner, yogurt, cell phones, and donuts), you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

March 27, 2010

(Updated with videos) Kim Yu-na wins silver, Mao Asada gold at Turin 2010 figure skating world championships

Filed under: sports — extrakorea @ 10:28 pm

After stumbling to seventh place in the short program, Kim Yu-na moved way up in the free skate to win the silver medal at the 2010 Turin world figure skating championships.

Kim, 19, fell on a triple salchow and popped a double axel. She also lacked spark throughout the 4-minute program.

To be honest, with a performance like that, taken together with her disastrous short program, I really wonder if she deserved to move up so far, onto the medal podium. And the future?

With the next Winter Games four years away in Sochi, Russia, Queen Yuna as she dubbed at home is considering whether she should turn professional.

“I’ll take a break and think about my future,” she said.

Mao Asada won the competition, the second time in three years that she’s done so.

The 2008 world champion, sitting second after Friday’s short program, was a little loose on two jumps but otherwise showed supreme grace and control as the “Bells of Moscow” rang out from the loudspeakers.

Her triumph gave Japan both male and female gold at these 100th world championships. Olympic bronze medalist Daisuke Takahashi claimed the title on Thursday.

“I wanted to follow Takahashi’s success,’’ said Asada. “Next year the world championship is in Japan (Tokyo) and I think this is a good start to the new season.’’

She says that she’s grateful to Kim for pushing her to be a better skater.

“It has been a long time that I felt I had to work harder because of her (Kim),” Asada said. “Thanks to her, I grow as a skater, and I will be encouraged to work harder even from now on.”

Mao says that she’s considering getting a new coach. In my view, that would be a smart move because the Russian coaches have shown that they either lack the ability or desire to use the current point system to the best advantage.

“At the start of the season I had to continue to challenge and push myself to do the triple axel. After the Olympics I was very relaxed,” Asada said, adding that she would now consider hiring a new coach for next season.

Finland’s Laura Lepisto, who was in third place after the short program, remained in third place. It was Finland’s first medal at a world championships.

America’s Mirai Nagasu, who was in the lead after the short program, finished the long program in 11th place, and so fell to 7th overall.

Nagasu started badly, with a stepout on her first triple lutz that kept her from doing a combination. Then she had a two-footed landing on her second triple lutz and fell on a double axel.

“I’m sorry,” Nagasu said to her coach, Frank Carroll, as she left the ice.

She really beat herself up.

“I’m just really disappointed in myself for not stepping up to the plate today,” Nagasu said. “I’m sorry I didn’t do the best that I could have done. Coming out of the Olympics, where I was in fourth place, finishing in seventh place here is a really big blow. I feel really bad.”

[ snip ]

“I am really disappointed with myself because I always do this, I always go from first to like seventh,” Nagasu said, sniffing through tears. “Except at the Olympics. I didn’t drop there.”

If she can break this bad habit (one columnist called it a “fear of flying high“), she’s a future world champion for sure, possibly even the next Olympic champion.

Japan’s Miki Ando was fourth, and Canada’s Cynthia Phaneuf was fifth.

Cynthia Phaneuf is more known for popping jumps than popping eyes.

She did none of the former and quite a lot of the latter here Saturday afternoon, lifting herself into a fifth place finish at the World Figure Skating Championships.

The 22-year-old from Brossard, Que., once a national champion, finally nailed the clean long program she has been longing for through several seasons of climbing back from injury and eclipse.

European champion Carolina Kostner of Italy received a rousing reception from her home crowd but could only finish sixth despite an elegant display — prompting boos toward the judges.

Mao Asada's really happy

So is Cynthia Phaneuf

And Mirai Nagasu is really bend-y


Mao Asada

Kim Yu-na

Laura Lepisto

Mirai Nagasu

March 26, 2010

(Updated with videos) Kim Yu-na finishes seventh in short program at Turin world championships

Filed under: sports — extrakorea @ 11:53 pm

At the World Figure Skating Championships, which are being held in Turin, Italy, Olympic and defending World champion Kim Yu-na finished in seventh place in the women’s short program. What happened?

The Olympic champion opened her routine with a solid triple lutz-triple toe loop combination, but she under-rotated her triple flip and missed a layback spin before her spiral sequence was downgraded.

It’s a pity, because it was the last chance to see Kim’s “James Bond medley” performance.

So who is currently in first place? Is it Kim’s great rival, Mao Asada? No, she’s in second. In first is Mirai Nagasu.

Here is what I said about her during the Olympics:

Mark my words, she is someone to watch in the years to come.

I knew that she was a future world champion (and possible Olympic champion), but I didn’t expect that it might happen so soon.

The other South Korean at the competition, Kwak Min-jung, qualified for the free skate but only finished in 23rd place after missing a triple lutz-double toe loop combination.

The free skate will take place Saturday night (Turin time).


Here are videos of the performances. Watch them quickly, before some douche-nozzle complains and has them removed from YouTube.

Kim Yu-na:

Mirai Nagasu:

Mao Asada:

March 24, 2010

Will the Turin world championships be Kim Yu-na’s final competition?

Filed under: sports — extrakorea @ 2:33 pm

I’ve mentioned before that Kim Yu-na has gone to Turin to defend her world title. If successful, she’ll be the first in decades to do so successfully (Katarina Witt: 1984-85, 1987-88; Kristi Yamaguchi: 1991-92; Michelle Kwan: 2000-2001).

She admitted that she lost her motivation after winning the Olympic gold medal:

“Whether you win or lose, it’s hard. You`ve won the biggest prize in the history of the sport. And then, if you haven’t won, you’re defeated and you have the ‘why bother’ attitude,” he [coach Brian Orser] said.

“All the athletes have that,” he added. “And I told Yu-na that: `You`re not special.’”

This was the first time Kim lacked the motivation to train before a competition. Orser said it was very tough to prepare for this event, adding Kim would not have known that it was this hard.

Kim confessed her feelings about this event. After practice, she said, “After realizing my dream, the Olympic gold medal, I think I got a little bit loose.”

There is speculation that this may be her final competition:

After winning the gold medal at the Olympics, Kim insinuated that she may retire, saying she has “achieved everything.” Later she took a more cautious approach, saying she would focus on the World Championships and then think about her future direction afterward.

It is uncertain whether Kim will continue to compete or turn professional, but experts say that to keep her marketability high it would be better to remain in competition. Kim’s brand value soared with her winning the Olympic gold.

[ snip ]

Kim will return to Seoul after the World Championships on March 31 and perform in an ice show for three days from April 16 at Olympic Park’s Gymnastics Stadium. With the ice show, her contract with IB Sports will expire. The management agency is naturally eager to renew its contract with the biggest sports icon in Korea.

[ snip ]

The chemistry between the company and Kim is said to be very good, so many expect the contract will be renewed. However, it all depends on what decisions Kim makes about her future after the championships.

March 22, 2010

Kim Yu-na goes to Turin to defend her world title

Filed under: sports — extrakorea @ 1:52 pm

Kim Yu-na is going to Turin, Italy, to defend her world title. If she is successful, she will be the first woman to do so since Michelle Kwan did it in 2000 and 2001. Canada’s Joannie Rochette won’t be there, but Italy’s Carolina Kostner will be, as will the Japanese trio of Mao Asada, Miki Ando and Akiko Suzuki.

Asada, who has been in a heated rivalry with Kim since they both entered senior level competition in 2006, has vowed to beat Kim at Turin and surpass her scores since the Olympics ended.

The short program will be this Friday, and the free skate is on Saturday.

In case you are wondering, here is how Yu-na stacks up against some of the other all-time greats (I’m counting the number of gold medals in Olympic or World competitions):

* Sonja Henie: 3 Olympics, 10 Worlds

* Carol Heiss: 1 Olympics, 5 Worlds

* Katarina Witt: 2 Olympics, 4 Worlds

* Michelle Kwan: 5 Worlds

* Kim Yu-na: 1 Olympics, 1 Worlds

March 16, 2010

Kim Yu-na got two Fs from Korea University

Filed under: education, sports — extrakorea @ 2:16 pm

What a deplorable way to treat an iconic national treasure. Korea University gave Olympic champion figure skater Kim Yu-na two failing grades last year. Why? Because she never attended class … or submitted training plans to make up for her absences … or turned in assignments … or took any exams … or turned in any reports to replace her missed exams.

Don’t worry, she won’t become a college dropout. In Korea, once you’ve been accepted into university, you’re practically guaranteed to graduate. Just ask Jang Na-ra, who graduated after ten years. I think Lee Hyo-ri did too, though I’m not sure.

From next year, Kim will be able to take classes at a partner university of Korea University in Toronto and transfer the credits.

March 6, 2010

Commemorative Kim Yu-na coins to be issued

Filed under: sports — extrakorea @ 12:45 pm

To commemorate Kim Yu-na’s great victory over an evil Wa pirate Mao Asada, coins bearing her likeness will be issued and be on sale starting Monday.

February 25, 2010

Kim Yu-na’s record, Joannie Rochette’s strength, and Mirai Nagasu’s bloody nose

Filed under: sports — extrakorea @ 2:50 pm

Last night was a very interesting one for figure skating. American Mirai Nagasu skated 11th out of 30 skaters. It’s difficult to place well in that situation because judges hold back on scores in case later skaters do well. She had a “funky landing” on a triple lutz and so downgraded a planned triple-triple into a triple-double. Then, she felt something running from her nose. Blood.

“You have to deal with what you’ve got,” she said. “Halfway through the program, I felt it running down my nose and just said, ‘Don’t stop, keep going.’

“I skated the best I can.”

When she heard about Nagasu’s bloody nose, [teammate Rachael] Flatt exclaimed, “Oh my gosh!”

“Man, that’s not fun at all,” she said.

Despite all that, she managed a personal best, which kept her on top until the 22nd girl skated. Not bad for someone who has never been to a senior-level world championships.

Her component scores were relatively low, all in the 6-point range, which is the way judges often penalize skaters whom they think have more dues to pay.

“I thought I could have skated better,” she said. “I’m happy that in my first Olympics, I didn’t fall yet.”

Mark my words, she is someone to watch in the years to come.

The aforementioned 22nd skater was Mao Asada, who beautifully skated her program, which included a triple axel, in combination no less, the first woman to do so at the Olympics. No wonder that, after finishing her program, she began jumping up and down like a giddly schoolgirl. It was the record for the highest score for a short program in Olympics history. Until the 23rd skater, that is.

That skater was Kim Yu-na. After finishing a flawless routine performed to a medley of James Bond music, she had earned the record for highest short program score. I guess triple lutz/triple toe trumps triple axel/double toe.

These three ladies stood at the top three positions until the sentimental favorite, Joannie Rochette, went on the ice. Skating in her home country, she would have had the crowd behind her regardless, but two days before, her mother suddenly passed away from a heart attack. No one would have blamed her if she had skated poorly, since psychology figures so importantly in figure skating. But she didn’t. Unbelievably, she skated beautifully, a personal best. As she waited for her scores, weeping, she mouthed what appeared to be the French word for mother, “Maman.” Many fans have sent condolences and good wishes via the Internet. One person wrote:

Your courage has been such an inspiration to me. I lost my best friend a few years ago, and I found comfort with skating. No matter how upset I was, I was able to put it all aside and skate all my emotions out on the ice. I watched your performance and cried the whole time — I was so proud of you — of your courage, your will and your tribute to your mother. She would be so proud. I know you still have your free program to skate, but no matter how you place, today I am proud to be Canadian because of you and your strength.

(emphasis mine. Me, too)

And also:

Joannie Rochette was so inspiring last night. I’ve never seen an arena filled with more love. We are all skating with you Jo! So proud of U — Evan Lysacek

In case you don’t know who Evan Lysacek is, he won the gold medal in the men’s competition.

Her rivals also expressed support.

Akiko Suzuki:

“What I think … is that skating right now for her is the best thing that she can do for her Mom. I think it’s great that she is skating and that she is doing her best right now. And I would like to pay my condolences.”

Laura Lepisto:

“I think the atmosphere was of course a little bit down at the practices. But I think the whole Canadian crowd is really supporting her


Julia Sebestyen:

“I know she’s a great skater and I feel so sorry for her. But that shows how great a skater is she, that she could skate in this situation very well.”

Kim Yu-na:

“I had a similar difficult situation about two years ago, a personal situation during a very important international competition. And I fully understand how she feels and I’m sure she’ll overcome the difficulties.”

Mao Asada:

“I feel really bad and I’m really sorry for her. I hope she can skate really well and does her best.”

Mirai Nagasu:

“I just applaud her for taking the ice. This is what the two of them [she and her mom] worked so hard for. I think she will do her best because her mom will be with her.”

So here are the standings after the short program:

1. Yu-Na Kim (Korea) — 78.50
2. Mao Asada (Japan) — 73.78
3. Joannie Rochette (Canada) — 71.36
4. Miki Ando (Japan) — 64.76
5. Rachael Flatt (USA) — 64.64
6. Mirai Nagasu (USA) — 63.76
7. Carolina Kostner (France) — 63.02
8. Alena Leonova (Russia) — 62.14
9. Elene Gedevanishvili (Georgia) — 61.92
10. Laura Lepisto (Finland) — 61.36
11. Akiko Suzuki (Japan) — 62.02

So what’s next, in the free skate? Let’s listen to Michelle Kwan:

“What might be going through her (Asada’s) brain right now is that she has nothing to lose. She’s got to nail the two triple axels, thinking that (Kim) would do a clean program,” said Kwan.

How psychologically defeating is it to land a big jump like the triple axel and still place second?

“Well, that’s competition. Sometimes your best isn’t good enough. … It’s all what the judges are looking for, and apparently (Kim) is what the judges are

looking for when it comes to jump quality and spin quality and her edges and all that,” Kwan said.

And do the American women, in 5th and 6th place, have a chance to scramble onto the podium?

Flatt’s coach, Tom Zakrajsek, said he had spoken with Flatt about her medal chances. They have decided that a medal is possible — if someone ahead of them makes a mistake.

[ snip ]

“One person pops a jump and it’s an even playing field,” Zakrajsek said.

In figure skating parley, a “pop” is when a skater turns a planned triple into a single.

And here is a chart showing all of the top ladies’ personal best and worst free skate scores.

Korean women’s team disqualified in 3,000-meter relay short-track speedskating

Filed under: sports — extrakorea @ 12:31 pm

The Korean women’s team were the first across the finish line in the 3,000-meter short-track relay speedskating competition, earning a record fifth consecutive gold medal in the event. They celebrated on the ice with their nation’s flag while the 4th-place American team looked dejected.

However, after several minutes of discussion amongst the referees, the Koreans were disqualified for impeding a Chinese skater, giving the Chinese the gold and the Canadians and Americans silver and bronze, respectively.

“I don’t know what the reason is,” said team member Kim Min-Jung. “I don’t have any clue what the referee was saying. It doesn’t make any sense at all.”

Officials later said they were disqualified for clicking skates with China just after an exchange with five laps to go. Kim was in the lead when her left skate blade hit the right blade of China’s Sun Linlin.

It’s the American women’s first medal in the event since since 1994.

February 24, 2010

Figure skating favorites lost at the last three Olympics

Filed under: sports — extrakorea @ 2:31 am

There is no doubt that Kim Yu-na is the favorite to win the women’s figure skating gold medal. (Watch videos of the favorites of Sasha Cohen and Elvis Stojko here and here, respectively.)

However, it should be remembered that at the last three Olympics, the favorite didn’t win. In 1998, Michelle Kwan was defeated by Tara Lipinski. In 2002, Kwan, Sasha Cohen, and Irina Slutskaya* lost to Sarah Hughes. And at the last Olympics, Cohen and Slutskaya were bested again, this time by Shizuka Arakawa.

So, could Americans Rachael Flatt (17) and Mirai Nagasu (16) upset more senior ladies like Kim, Mao Asada, Miki Ando, and Carolina Kostner?** You’ll have to tune in to find out.

* Get your mind out of the gutter and stop making fun of her name.

** I would have included Joannie Rochette as a strong medal contender, but she must be an emotional wreck after the death of her mother on Sunday morning.

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