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Figure skater Kim Yu-na to sit out entire season

All Headlines 19:30 October 18, 2011

INCHEON, Oct. 18 (Yonhap) -- Figure skater Kim Yu-na said Tuesday she will sit out the entire 2010-11 season but denied she was retiring from the sport.

"I've decided not to enter any event this upcoming season," Kim told reporters at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, upon returning from her training camp in Los Angeles. "After the Vancouver Olympics last year, it's been a whirlwind of activities on top of all the preparations for competitions. I felt I needed to take a breather."

After winning gold in ladies' singles in Vancouver with a record total of 228.56 points, Kim didn't compete in any of the Grand Prix events organized by the International Skating Union (ISU) the following season. She only entered the world championships in April this year, and finished second behind Miki Ando of Japan.

This will mark the first time in Kim's junior and senior career that she will miss an entire season. But the 21-year-old said she isn't about to retire from figure skating.

"I've only made up my mind for this season," Kim said. "Skipping this season doesn't mean retirement. It won't be over until I think I've had enough."

Her decision to skip last season's Grand Prix circuit after winning the Olympic gold only fueled speculation that she was about to turn professional. Kim never really made her plans clear last season, and on Tuesday, she was equally evasive.

"I need more time to think about what I am going to do further down the road," she said. "I will tell you next year what will happen beyond this season."

She said she wants to lead a normal life as a 20-something university student for the time being.

"It's comforting to know that I won't have to worry about competing," Kim said with a smile. "I've got a lot of things to do during my down time. I think time will fly by. I want to live like a normal college student whenever I can."

Kim trains almost year-round in LA but with her latest decision, she won't be back in the U.S. anytime soon.

"I've missed Korea so much," she said. "I know fans will be disappointed that I won't be competing, but I will still do ice shows to meet with them."

Kim is the only South Korean figure skater, male or female, to have won an Olympic gold and a world championship. She won her first and only world title in 2009, and finished second in both 2010 and 2011.

With Kim's absence, figure skating's Grand Prix will be without both ladies' and men's reigning Olympic champions. American Evan Lysacek, the men's winner in Vancouver, will also sit out Grand Prix events.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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