August 30, 2010 12:37
When Brian Orser met Kim Yu-na for the first time in Toronto back in 2006, he recalls seeing a timid girl with braces who spoke no English and was all arms and legs with little control. Kim had flown to Toronto to discuss a new dance routine from choreographer David Wilson, and it was there that she spent three weeks practicing jumps with Orser, who won the silver medal in men's figure skating at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. Kim's mother, Park Mi-hee, asked Orser to be the girl's coach when she saw how well the two got on.
Orser said in his autobiography "One Thousand Jumps for One Leap" published last year that those who believe Kim's skating talents were a gift from God should observe her for just three days, saying her skills are the result of tenacious training. He added his goal was to teach Kim all of his skills as a skater. Orser essentially gave up his professional career to become her coach.
The two made an excellent team. Starting off with her first win in a senior tournament in November of 2006, she captured the top prizes at the Grand Prix Final, World Figure Skating Championships and eventually the gold medal at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver in February this year. Orser, who never won an Olympic gold medal, rose in status as a talented coach. The two even appeared in a commercial together.
A lot of speculation surrounds their bitter split. When Orser blamed Kim's mother, the young athlete responded on her Twitter site by telling her former coach not to "tell a lie." Then Orser stepped over the line by revealing the musical score of Kim's new program. There is even talk that a large sports management agency is fueling the bitter fight in order to get Orser to sign on with Kim's rival, Mao Asada of Japan.
Kim and Orser were never bound by a formal contract. But she used to refer to him as the only person in the world who knew what she was thinking about on ice. Now the two have become separated by emotion. Sports commentators at NBC shouted "Long live the queen!" as they broadcast Kim's performance during the Vancouver Winter Games. The ugly separation may tarnish Kim's crown. They could have found a better way to part.
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