Figure skating star Kim Yu-na has decided to skip the upcoming International Skating Union-sanctioned Grand Prix Series events due to injury, presenting her with an unexpected hurdle ahead of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia in February.
"Kim suffered a slight injury to her metatarsal on her right foot. It requires six weeks of treatment, followed by a rehabilitation program to prevent the injury from recurring," the Korea Skating Union said Friday. "As such, we decided that it would be better for her to skip the entire Grand Prix Series."
She started to feel some discomfort in her foot late last month and had it looked at last week at a hospital in Seoul. The injury is partly blamed on her intensive training.
This poses a serious challenge to her goal of defending her Olympic title. Kim was planning to compete in two Grand Prix Series events -- Skate Canada from Oct. 25 and the Trophée Eric Bompard in Paris from Nov. 15. Skaters can compete in up to two events in the series, and those who finish in the top six overall can earn a place in the Grand Prix Final from Dec. 5 to 8 in Fukuoka, Japan.
This year's Grand Prix Series is especially important for skaters as they can showcase their Olympic programs for evaluation by ISU judges. Kim will now miss the opportunity to try out her new program on a competitive stage in order to fine tune it ahead of the Olympics. She will also have no chance of raising her world ranking.
Kim dropped to world No. 54 after sitting out the entire 2011-2012 season, but she has since raised it to 24th place by winning the NRW Trophy in Dortmund, Germany, last year and the World Championships this March.
In order to be included in the upper groups contested by top skaters at the Olympics, she may choose to compete in either the NRW Trophy in Dortmund, Germany in early December or the Four Continents Championships in Taipei, which kicks off on Jan. 20, 2014.