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Thread: Yuna the Enigma

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  1. #1
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    Yuna the Enigma

    Am I the only one who was surprised by Yuna Kim's flowing tears on the medal stand at Worlds? I really wasn't expecting that reaction from her. I found myself wondering about it. Was she upset because she didn't really want to be competing in the first place? Or was it because she really DID want to skate, and win, and was just very disappointed with silver?

    If she didn't really want to compete, then why did she come? And if she really wanted to win, then why didn't she commit herself to this season more fully by competing at 4CC or possibly performing her programs at an exhibition beforehand (even just a small rink exhibition might have helped). And why did she find this competition "the hardest" of her career, as she said afterward?

    It's funny, I feel like Yuna is a bit of an enigma. I don't really understand what motivates her or makes her tick as a skater or as a person. Once, she said that she has "more bad memories than good" regarding skating. And she certainly doesn't seem to enjoy the stress or pressure of competing. Yet, she returned this year to skate at Worlds. Why? I just feel like there are a lot of unknowns with her. Why was her split with Orser so bitter? Does she really like competing, or not? Does she like show skating, or would she actually like to be doing something else entirely with her life (like Michelle Kwan)? What does she like to do off the ice? I feel like her press interviews are unrevealing on most subjects.

    As a figure skating fan, I'm definitely glad that Yuna competed at Worlds. I for one thought her skating was excellent. Yes, she had technical mistakes, and both programs needed more refinement and finish. However, I really felt a new maturity and depth to her presentation, and I thought she looked fantastic as well. I'm sorry for her sake that she was unhappy with the competition. I do hope we see her again next year--if that's what she really wants.

  2. #2
    Yuna's Ice Rink cooper's Avatar
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    Yuna's on-off the ice is like a soap opera. Who knows about the ending. I'm quiet happy about her silver medal after being away from the competitive skating in 13 months. Her podium streak continues. But she looks exhausted. The girl needs a long break.

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    can't come down to Earth prettykeys's Avatar
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    eyria, I really appreciate your kind comments and insights. There are certainly many questions, and YuNa seems hesistant to publicize the answers. I fear that this thread will draw in negative/cynical comments regarding her...but my best guess is that she feels an obligation to continue on behalf of the future of Korean figure skating, and also alongside the PyeongChang bid for the Winter Olympics. And if PyeongChang is successful, the committee will probably want YuNa to continue as well, so that there is continued inspiration or interest for the Korean winter athletes.

    That she announced her plan to participate in 4CC next season does speak to her competitive motivations, too, though. If she feels an obligation to continue, she does want to win. Also, as I said in her news thread, her Arirang LP this year was beautiful. I don't think that beauty was a side effect of her just wanting to compete, though. I think it was one of her primary goals.

    So, to summarize: I think she feels an obligation to continue, but if she must, then she also feels the pressure on herself to try to give her best showing. I don't know what her tears on the podium meant.

    Edit: The mention of a Korean figure skating official visiting YuNa last year before the Turin World championships is here:

    http://www.thestar.com/article/97995...on-and-off-ice

    She didn’t want to compete at last year’s world championships in Turin, totally spent after winning at the Olympics under intense pressure. But a visit from a Korean figure skating official to her then training base in Toronto convinced her to change her mind.
    Last edited by prettykeys; 05-03-2011 at 09:55 AM.

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    Yuna's Ice Rink cooper's Avatar
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    She didn’t want to compete at last year’s world championships in Turin, totally spent after winning at the Olympics under intense pressure. But a visit from a Korean figure skating official to her then training base in Toronto convinced her to change her mind.
    I thought this is only a rumor? If this is true then if Pyeongchang gets the bid.. it looks like Yuna will continue competing even in 2018!

  5. #5
    can't come down to Earth prettykeys's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cooper View Post
    I thought this is only a rumor? If this is true then if Pyeongchang gets the bid.. it looks like Yuna will continue competing even in 2018!
    I don't know if it's a rumour or if it was corroborated with David Wilson. The Toronto Star article is ambiguous about that, isn't it? But, it seems like it is not unrealistic. I hope YuNa will not compete until 2018. That would be too much for her.

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    Just as background, I'm a longtime Yu-Na fan, since 2006. Skating fan since long before that of other skaters like Michelle Kwan (whom I love just as much) and I find much to admire in many other skaters.

    I don't have any definitive answers because even Yu-Na could not explain her tears at first. To answer your first question, yes, I was stunned to see Yu-Na crying on the podium. I have never ever seen her cry like that neither in her biggest victories (2009 Worlds/2010 Olympics) or defeats (2008 GPF and 2010 Worlds). There is simply no way that winning silver here was as disappointing as not winning gold at the 2008 GPF in Korea. After that competition, she posted a picture of her smiling from the podium ceremony on her blog and said that she just wants to always smile like in that picture. I can't see how silver at this Worlds could be any more heartbreaking than winning bronze at 2008 Worlds after fighting through injuries and coming up just short, and she held it together just fine there.

    I think even her own fans sometimes forget that Yu-Na came from a very, very humble place in figure skating and that she never really had dreams of winning multiple world titles or multiple Olympic medals like some of her fans want for her. I know she really wanted to win Worlds at least once, which is why she cried after winning in 2009. But I was really surprised to see that Yu-Na was just thrilled last year at Worlds at winning silver on the podium. That's when I realized that she meant every word she said about medals not being the most important thing about skating. For a girl who has won so many golds, she surprisingly doesn't think it's life or death to win gold. Which is healthy in its own way, but then once you've won everything like she has, what's her motivation now?

    Like many other skaters, Yu-Na started out as a girl who liked to skate at a rink nearby. She fell in love with the sport when she saw Michelle Kwan and Tara Lipinski skate at 1998 Olympics. Her talent was noticed and it was developed...and all was well, but things got harder. Injuries, lack of support, lack of training facilities. She had to go overseas to train at an early age. She couldn't have a social life like other girls her own age. She didn't have a stable coach in Korea who was qualified to develop her. Her family didn't have that much money. Yes, she loves figure skating. But the time spent on the ice creating the performances her fans love, the time spent on the podium wearing that gold medal, isn't it just a fraction of the time that she's spent training, traveling, and making sacrifices in cause of her sport and her goals? She's said that she's proud to be called an Olympic champion; at the same time, she made a comment that once she came after her Olympic victory high, she had a moment where she looked at her medal and thought, "All that for this one medal?" (Paraphrasing.)

    Yu-Na's always been a bit contradictory in that she was always an amazing competitor, as prepared as possible to go for the gold, yet publicly happy with whatever medal she ends up getting. She gives beautiful performances at competitions and has a special relationship with her fans...but what I think she dislikes is the constant expectation that she win and set world records. I think she likes to win but doesn't like the stress of competition, meaning she doesn't want to be met with expectation that she must win (and disappointment if she doesn't). An enigma is right.

    Through the Olympics, I have no doubt that Yu-Na was following her dream to compete at the Olympics, and every competition was a step towards that dream, competing on the GPs, going to the GPF, going to 4CCs in 2009 in Vancouver, winning Worlds 2009, etc. But once she won everything, is winning more of the same medals she's already won really a goal that provides enough motivation like she had before when trying to win those medals for the first time? Most Olympic champions in singles never bother to continue.

    I know this, that Yu-Na cares deeply and sincerely about the future of Korean skating in Korea, due to her support of many younger Korean skaters, and she would not want to let it collapse in her absence. Yu-Na's silver medal at the 2005 Junior Worlds secured Korea more JGP slots the next season than it ever had before. This past season they only had 3 JGP slots. It doesn't work the same way on the senior level, but I could see Yu-Na wanting to support Korean skaters by competing and keeping the sport popular in Korea. I could also see her not wanting to disappoint her fans by retiring; she consistently maintained that she wanted to show new programs to her fans at this year's Worlds. But why couldn't she show these programs in just shows? I don't know.

    I don't think the split with Orser has much to do with this other than the fact that it came at a time that Yu-Na was clearly suffering from post-Olympics exhaustion, which I think just made things worse. Michelle had to take a year off after 1998 Olympics and just like Yu-Na came up with a silver at Worlds after not competing internationally that season before.

    Anyway, this is a lot of words and no clear answer. I think there are a number of factors weighing down on Yu-Na right now that caused her to burst into tears. Post-Olympics depression, having to change coaches, having to change training bases, being nervous after having been away from competition, wanting to show perfect performances to her fans but not being able to, wanting Korean figure skating to keep succeeding (but as Min-Jung's placement showed, no one can take her place), wanting to compete without pressure since she's won everything but that pressure is still there for her to win. Needing a new goal and motivation and something more important than winning another tiny medal. I would love to see her back on the ice but only if it's what makes her happy, but more importantly I want her to be happy, because on the podium, it looked like she was carrying the weight of the whole world on her shoulders. As Scott Hamilton once said about Yu-Na, no one can walk a mile in those shoes...no one.

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