Olympic figure-skating champion Kim Yu-na made a successful comeback from a 19-month break on Saturday at the NRW Trophy in Dortmund, Germany, scoring 72.27 points, the season’s highest, in the short program. The season’s previous high in the event was 67.95 achieved by Mao Asada of Japan at the NHK Trophy last month.
Kim’s flawless routine melted away worries here that she may fail to regain competitive form after such a long hiatus, as competition is notoriously tenser than practice, no matter how hard contestants train or how outstanding they used to be.
With the high score Saturday, she cleared that hurdle, giving her the first green light on her way to the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia. She hadn’t competed since the world championships in Moscow in April 2011, and sat out the 2011-2012 season as she mulled over her future. She announced in July she would return this year and retire after the 2014 Winter Games.
Her 19-month absence from competition after the 2011 World Championships was a handicap she had to overcome. In the championship, which was also her first contest after a 13-month break, she made mistakes and fell short of expectations. At that time, she told reporters she had felt burdened.
Given the longer break this time, a return to real competition would have been more burdensome for her, but the 22-year-old could have eased the burden by taking on a smaller tournament as the first step toward the World Championship.
Her adaptation to changes in scoring was successful as well. The International Skating Union has revised the spin and jump point systems for this season. Under the new regulation, her three spins got high grades, one with a score of 1.00 and the other two with 0.75.
The next task in her comeback to competition is to maintain her physical strength. Before making her comeback to the NRW Trophy, she said she felt 80 to 90 percent as strong as in her previous competitive days.
The key, then, is how well she will consume her physical strength while improving her performance before advancing to the world championships and then to the Olympics.
By Chun Sung-woo (firstname.lastname@example.org)