Figure skating star Kim Yu-na, 24, retired after the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Her absence is worrying multiple figure skating fans about the future of Korean figure skating. Yet the current up-and-comers, Park So-youn, 17, and Kim Hae-jin, 17, are developing notably, and are poised to fill the gap after Kims departure.
Park has notably gotten better. At the International Skating Union (ISU) Four Continents Championships 2014 held in Taiwan on January 25, Park finished in ninth place overall, scoring 162.71, which was a successful senior debut. She also finished ninth, scoring 176.61, at the 2014 World Championships, held in Saitama, Japan, in March. Her score is the highest ever by a Korean skater, aside from Kim Yu-na. Based on her achievements the 2013-2014 season, she has secured two places for the Grand Prix series in 2014-2015 and two berths for the 2015 World Championships.
Parks program for this upcoming season was choreographed by David Wilson, who is well-known as Kim Yu-nas choreographer. At the Skate America and the Rostelecom Cup, the first and fourth events in the Grand Prix series, Park will announce to the world her standing as the follow-up to Kim Yu-na. Park is the first Korean skater to compete in two Grand Prix events since Kim Yu-na.
Kim Hae-jin, who finished sixth at the Four Continents, has had less success, finishing 16th at the Sochi Olympics and 23rd at the World Championships. Yet with her valuable experiences in major international events, she is vowing to shake off the disappointment of the 2013-2014 season by competing in Skate Canada, the second Grand Prix event.
Park and Kim Hae-jin will skate in the Asian Open Figure Skating Trophy 2014, which will begin in Taipei from Friday. Although it is not a competition with the top skaters, it is an opportunity to test their programs before the Grand Prix kicks off. A figure skating official said Kim Yu-na often visits their rink and offers help while watching their choreography. The retired figure skating stars guidance and encouragement is boosting their morale, the official said.