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Yuna fulfills the dream of a nation

February 26, 2010

In the late 80s, I discovered the world of Saturday afternoon figure skating. I was immediately hooked and waited with bated breath for the 1988 Calgary Olympics to witness the “Battle of the Brians and the Carmens.” I can still vividly recall my favorite male Olympic skating performance (by a mile) from Brian Boitano, turning into Napoleon for his long program.

I’ve had my favorites throughout the years, but no one has ever come close to my true love, Michelle Kwan. After debuting as a jumper, she quickly blossomed into a artistic genius and I fell in love with her skating. I was devastated when she didn’t fulfill her expectations at the Olympics. (I still get upset whenever I see Tara Lipinski or Sarah Hughes. I’m a total sore loser.)

Kim Yuna is the first skater since Michelle to give me goosebumps. There are plenty of skaters whom I’ve liked: I marveled at Sasha Cohen’s perfect stretch and lines, and appreciated the beauty of Salé and Pelletier. But watching Yuna skate transports me to different world. As the Vancouver Olympics approached, I found myself pulling for Yuna as I did for Michelle over 10 years ago and got butterflies in my stomach every time I thought about the competition.

After 20 years of fandom, I feel like my dreams were fulfilled tonight seeing Yuna win the gold medal with a spectacular performance. She looked calm but resolute and her blue outfit with the beautiful sequined back illuminated a sense of royalty. With a perfectly suited long program, she was effervescent as she flitted and floated across the ice to Gershwin’s Concerto. At 19, I thought her James Bond program was a bit to sexy for her to pull off with total believability and loved that her long program was created to embrace her youth and grace.

She set records in both the short and free to post a total score over 228, obliterating the 210 she set earlier this season. Her free skate of 150 was almost 20 points better than Mao and Joannie. And even with Mao Asado’s 2 triple axels, she couldn’t compete with Yuna in the technical department as the gold medalist scored a whopping 12 points on her triple/triple combo. (No other skater even broke a 10 on their combo jumps.) She was nothing short of exquisite.

Sidenote: Even though the old scoring system was tainted and imperfect, I miss seeing the faces of skaters as they see their scores, especially the surprise and excitement of seeing a perfect 6. I think we would have seen quite a few 6’s from Yuna’s performance if it had been under the old system.

Even more exciting is that she has the capacity to get better. Her artistry will only develop as she matures and develops the depth and experience to infuse intensity into her programs. Maybe in a few years she can attempt her own Bolero routine to rival Torvill and Dean. Something that Michelle couldn’t quite accomplish in her attempt. After this Olympics, I’m sure Christopher Dean would be more than happy to choreograph her routine.

Besides Yuna, the rest of the skaters had stellar performances, making the ladies competition super enjoyable. Mao Asada made Olympic history with her triple axels and Joannie Rochette was stunning as she channeled her tragedy into triumph. The two American ladies were also solid and Mirai Nagasu even received the second highest execution scores in the free skate, only behind Yuna. Even the other Korean skater, Kwak Min Jung, was impressive and might cute with her braces filled smile. (Watch her free skate here.) I can’t wait for the exhibition skating on Saturday.

Even though she just skated my favorite female Olympic performance, it’ll take awhile before Yuna can overtake the skater of my heart. Here’s one of my favorite performances of all time: Michelle skating to East of Eden.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. wits permalink
    February 26, 2010 9:22 am

    Yes, Michelle Kwan too, was my all-time favourite skater… before Kim Yuna. Yuna’s performance last night brought tears to my eyes, just as Michelle did with her East of Eden number so many years ago (thanks for the video!!!) I am so happy about the results of the figure skating competition in this olympics. We hear of a lot of comments, rants and gripes about the scores and winners, and they would continue for a while. But I think the scores are dead on. Triple axels do not a gold medal make, and despite Mao Asada’s great performance, we have to look at the total package… the little details, the bends, the forms, speed, the expression, grace, even their shape when they are in the air, or when they land. Kim Yuna is by far… by miles…. just better than anyone else in the competition. And perhaps, better than anyone else in history… and the best things is… she will just get better!!!

    Congratulations to Kim Yuna and of course, the whole Korean community!

  2. February 26, 2010 3:25 pm

    Yay! Michelle Kwan fan! Yuna was phenomenal, no one was in the same league. I can’t wait until she gets better artistically and learns to skate with passion… that would be awesome.

  3. jamieguo permalink
    March 1, 2010 3:04 pm

    Word. For me, it was Michelle Kwan and Torvill and Dean. I saw T & D’s Encounter and it was the first time I was mesmerized by an ice skating program. Truly glorious that.

    And many of MK’s programs have left me breathless. Yuna reminds me of Michelle in that she’s a strong competitor who’s out to win each time she steps on the ice. They’re both strong skaters who are great overall skaters. MK might have been stronger artistically and Yuna’s jumps are better, but the rest of their arsenal, footwork, spins, etc. are solid as well. I love skaters like that who have it all, although they still have areas to work on, they don’t have big glaring weaknesses, like Sasha’s mental weakness, or Tara and Sarah’s (whom I dislike as well) lack of grace or flow. Really, I don’t see how either of them were ever on the same planet as Michelle artistically.

    But this Olympics, I wanted Yuna to win, but didn’t have anyone I was really rooting for and nervous about when they skated except for Virtue and Moir. I was really rooting for them and they won it!

  4. March 13, 2010 4:53 pm

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