Friday, December 31, 2010

Asada-Kim rivalry overdone by Japanese TV

While Mao Asada has struggled to return to form for all eyes to see, Yuna Kim has trained quietly in California. Yes, Kim trains near Hollywood - the land of paparazzi, but how far is too far when it comes to keeping tabs on the Olympic champ? 

There is nothing like a good rivalry in sports and for the last six-plus years, South Korea's Yuna Kim and Japan's Mao Asada have provided that to ladies' figure skating.

But when Kim took the fall international season off to regroup from the Olympic season and adapt to a new coach, there was no Kim-Asada rivalry to discuss. The focus was solely on the struggling world champion Asada.

Unable to weigh her successes and failures against Kim, the Japanese television station Nippon TV has done all it can to find out information on the Olympic champion Kim's new training situation.

Now, Kim's management has issued a complaint against the station for airing hidden camera footage of Kim's off-ice training at her rink in Artesia, California. The footage also shows Kim arriving for practice, shielded by a jacket and later coach Peter Oppegard outside the facility.

Yes, Kim is now training in the Los Angeles area where Hollywood stars being stalked by TMZ and the paparazzi is the norm. But this is figure skating and hidden cameras take the Kim-Asada rivalry a step too far.

While Nippon TV was apparently staking out Kim's new surroundings, Asada was regrouping from a slow start to the season by winning the silver medal at Japanese Nationals. The 20-year-old secured a spot at the World Championships in March, held in none other than Tokyo.

So the stage is set. Kim-Asada take 14 will take place at Worlds. (Kim leads the all-time head-to-head 7-6, including the biggest prize - Olympic gold.) There the media and fans alike can assess how Kim has adjusted to her new training environment when she skates against Asada for this season's biggest title - world champion.

Then we can hyper-analyze who had the better post-Olympic strategy - Asada pushing through her struggles publicly, or Kim, (trying to) privately regroup and re-focus.

source: Alexa Ainsworth, Universal Sports