Kim was first fascinated by figure skating when she saw one of her friends on ice when they were both seven. This inspired Kim to take up the sport and kept her motivated for 15 years of training until her recent retirement. “She looked so beautiful that I decided to start figure skating and that continued until today,” Kim said with a smile. Her career as a skater lasted for a long time, as she performed on numerous rinks, but when asked about her most memorable moment on the rink, she showed no hesitation in choosing the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, where she participated as a national champion. Although it was the first international event in which she participated, she performed outstandingly and ranked 16th at the age of only 17. “Participating in the Olympic Games with Kim Yu-na and Park So-yeon was a great relief to me during the games,” Kim said. “At the time, I thought I was not under a lot of pressure and felt fine and calm about the upcoming events. However, after the Olympics, it turned out I was not fine at all, so much so that I ached all over and even lost my voice for days.” Although she had a successful career path, Kim had gone through difficult times during her athletic career. One difficulty she endured was repeating the same schedule for 15 years, rarely leaving Kim time to meet new friends and classmates. She often had to skip school, so she wasn’t able to spend a lot of time with her classmates, unlike her peers. However, she did have friends who were figure skaters as they were the only people she could meet while practicing.
How did you feel after your retirement?
It was somewhat difficult for me to enter an ice rink after I decided to retire. Preparing for my last performance, which was at the 2018 Korea Figure Skating Championship, was definitely hard. After the performance, I had quite a bittersweet feeling since my career as an athlete had ended. However, I felt free from the routine that I had repeated for 15 years.
H o w d i d y o u g e t a n opportunity to join the MBC figure skating commentator team?
When I was preparing for my performance in the 2018 Korea Figure Skating Championship, I received a call from MBC, asking me to join their commentator team. I was actually training for the championship for the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, so the decision was not an easy one to make. In the end, I decided to retire and join the commentator team. A s c o m m e n t a t i n g w a s a completely new field to step into, the team rehearsed substantially b e f o r e t h e O l y m p i c s b y commentating on previous figure skating events and studying the rules for each event. Because of thorough preparation and hard work, the team received positive reactions from listeners. Kim was praised for her kind and in-depth explanation skills, which enabled people to understand figure skating easily. The 2018 PyeongChang Olympics became Kim’s great opportunity to prove her potential as a skilled commentator.
Were there any impressive or difficult moments as a commentator?
It was a huge burden for me to be one of the many participants at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics representing Korea. Therefore, I hadn’t had time to really enjoy the Olympics itself. However, participating as a commentator at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics was quite a different thing. Although I was nervous seeing our national athletes competing in the events, I was able to engage in commentating comfortably and delightfully, fully enjoying the Games. As Kim was not only an athlete but also a student going to a university student just like any other person of her age, she said that she barely had any free time. Studying and training at the same time was extremely difficult, and that was the main reason for her retirement. Kim had to train during the hours when there were no classes, so scheduling time for her own training to practice her performances was hard. She usually practiced in the late evenings, went to school in the early mornings, went back to the ice rink at midday, and returned to school again in the late afternoon to take more classes. Since Ewha’s curriculum is stricter compared to that of other schools, Kim was required to take more classes, which made receiving good grades difficult.
You have decided to take time off from school this semester. What are your plans?
I had been through such a hectic schedule for 15 years that I needed some time to rest. However, I’m actually still busy, especially while composing dances for young figure skaters to perform. Though I am taking a semester off, I decided to join a school club, Ewha Sports TV, so I have to schedule an interview with announcer Lee Jaeun, a graduate of Ewha, who commentated on figure skating for the PyeongChang Olympics.
What are your goals for the future?
Most people think that athletes after their retirement naturally become coaches or pursue a career in teaching, but that’s not always the case. Initially, I came to Ewha to avoid becoming negligent and to push myself to study while pursuing my athletic career, as the school has strict rules compared to other universities. Because of this, I hope to gain experience in different areas, such as working as a reporter, learning new languages, or obtaining an international referee’s license. There’s not really a certain, specific goal I want to achieve in the near future, as I am still young, but those three things are definitely in my mind. In her last comments, Kim asked for more interest in figure skating in Korea. Many people think of figure skating as a difficult sport that requires a lot of jumping. They also think that to become a figure skater, one has to start at a young age, but Kim says that the public can also easily enjoy figure skating as a hobby. Moreover, she has mentioned that while the conditions for figure skating have greatly improved because of Kim Yu-na the infrastructure is still poor compared to other countries. She hopes for more attention in all areas of figure skating such as ice dancing to improve such conditions.
Wee So-yeon, Lee Young-in firstname.lastname@example.org