Yelim Kim of the Republic of Korea embarks on her sixth senior season with a fresh approach and a pair of new programs that hold a special place in her heart.
Kim stands out as the most seasoned figure skater in a highly competitive field of Korean women. At the age of 20, she boasts an impressive track record, including four appearances at the Four Continents Championships, where she clinched the bronze in 2022 and the silver in 2023. She has also graced the stage at two World Championship events. Notably, she earned a ninth-place finish at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing.
In the 2022-23 season, Kim achieved a significant milestone by securing a coveted spot in the Grand Prix Final. Her journey to this achievement began with her triumphant performance at the 2022 NHK Trophy.
“I have so many great memories of my career, but I think my happiest moments was the NHK Trophy last season where I won the gold,” she shared.
Although she had achieved impressive results in the first half of the previous season, Kim openly acknowledges that she experienced a decline in performance towards the season’s end. This served as a valuable lesson for the dedicated skater, prompting her to adopt a different strategy for the current season. Her primary goal is to reach her peak performance precisely at the 2024 World Championships.
“Last season I was already 100 % ready for my first competition,” she explained. “Then I was a little bit tired towards the end of the season. This time I want to be in my best condition towards the end. I want to control that. My main goals are the championships events: Four Continents, and especially the World Championships. I aim to leave these events with a smile on my face after my performances.”
“I learned a lot from last season,” she continued. “When I was a kid and a Junior and over all these years, I felt like every competition was super important. But last season I really learned that you can’t do well at every competition. The season is long and there are many competitions and I have many chances to do my best.”
Having enjoyed a productive and injury-free summer, the skater is well-positioned for a promising and successful season ahead.
“The off-season felt very short, but everything was great,” Kim revealed. “Last season I had some pain in my back, but I fixed it. It was good to have a break. I worked well during the off-season with my new coach and my choreographers. It was really a good time!”
Kim is currently training under Hyungkyung Choi.
“I used to work with her when I was much younger, around eleven or twelve years old,” the skater relayed. “I have a good connection with her and I enjoy being back with her now.”
Together with Jefferey Buttle, Kim crafted a new short program to music from Ladies in Lavender by Nigel Hess.
“I wanted to use Ladies in Lavender last season, but David Wilson had recommended another piece,” she shared. “This season I finally use it. This music is very pretty and beautiful. I really love it! When I hear this music, I feel like falling in love. When I perform this program, I want to transfer this feeling to the audience.”
Both the program and the costume have garnered overwhelmingly positive feedback from fans, bringing immense joy to the skater. Kim also played a significant role in the design of her dress.
“I worked with a new costume designer this season,” she said, adding that she did a great amount of research for the design. “I sent her my ideas and she created this dress based on them.”
The new free skate is choreographed by David Wilson to the very well-known song “Je Suis Malade” performed by Genevieve Leclerc and “Tormented Mad Love” by Karl Hugo.
“There is actually a funny story,” the skater revealed with a smile. “When I created my new programs this season, I first worked on my long program with David. And then Jeffrey and I worked on the short. He watched my long program and noticed it feels like a very sad love story. So, we created the story that the short program shows how I fall in love and then something happens during the night. I get a call from someone. During the next day I am very sad and angry. That’s what I portrait in the free skate. I want to show that story.”
Kim enjoyed the productive work with both of her choreographers.
“They are both very funny,” she said. “I always really enjoy my time when I work with them. I really would love to work with both of them again for the upcoming seasons.”
She considers both of her new programs among her favorites of her career.
“I think my short program to ‘Mercy’ from the 2022-23 season, as well as my two new programs this year, are my own programs that I enjoy the most. I think when I made the programs with the choreographers, I felt already that these would be my favorite programs.”
Kim kicked off her season in style by clinching victory at the 2023 Finlandia Trophy, securing a second consecutive gold medal for the event. Her short program showcased a solid performance, although she encountered some technical challenges during the free skate. Nevertheless, there is no cause for concern as the skater acknowledges that she has not yet reached her peak condition. In fact, despite going into her sixth senior season, the 20-year-old plans to continue her career for many more years to come.
“Every element is of course so important, but overall, it is the charm of figure skating that the skaters can give emotions to the audience,” she explained, when asked of her long-time goal. “So I want to be a champion and, on the podium, but my biggest dream is to give emotions to the people.”
Some of Kim’s biggest competition comes within her own country as the Republic of Korea has many strong up and coming skaters aiming for their country’s top spots.
“In Korea we have so many talented skaters in Seniors and Juniors,” she pointed out. “It’s very great. It is also great for me as it pushes me to give my best in practices and competitions. In Korea, all of our national team skaters train together every day. That’s also great. We all know each other well, so at an event like World Team Trophy, we come up with good ideas to support each other and have fun together! Of course, it’s also a dream to be with this great team at the Olympics!”
Apart from skating Kim prefers calm and relaxing activities.
“These days I really like to stay at home,” said the skater. “I like reading books and baking cakes. I enjoy baking tarts or cookies!”
At this time, Kim is currently focused more on skating then studying. Her skating life is “much important than Uni-student life at this moment.”
She is now preparing for her two Grand Prix events at the Cup of China and at NHK Trophy.