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Yuna Kim: ‘It will be difficult’ to skate in Olympic exhibition gala

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UNITED NATIONS — Figure skating gold medalist Yuna Kim‘s earliest powerful memory of the Olympics was actually of the Summer Games.

“I first experienced the spirit of the Olympic Games and the power of sport when I was a 10-year-old watching the South and North Korean delegations walking into [Sydney 2000] Olympic Stadium together,” for the Opening Ceremony, she said Monday.

Kim, perhaps the most famous person in South Korea, spoke in English to the United Nations General Assembly in New York as a goodwill ambassador for the first Winter Games in South Korea.

The U.N. General Assembly adopted the traditional Olympic Truce, which calls on all nations to cease hostilities during the time surrounding the Olympics and Paralympics in February and March.

Though Kim retired after following her 2010 Olympic gold with silver in 2014, she could be very visible during the PyeongChang Games.

She is considered the favorite to light the cauldron at the Opening Ceremony on Feb. 9. That is if South Korean organizers go the traditional route of choosing an Olympic hero.

In 1988, at the only Summer Olympics in South Korea in Seoul, three South Koreans lit the cauldron simultaneously — a teacher, a high school student and a marathoner at those Games.

“No one knows who will be the last torch bearer and who will be lighting the cauldron,” Kim said later Monday in a press conference, speaking in Korean, “but if given the opportunity, of course it would be an honor.”

Kim could also make a well-publicized appearance on the final day of the Games at the figure skating exhibition gala.

Many ticket holders may hope that she does, given it is the second-highest-priced event of the Games behind the men’s hockey final.

She almost dismissed the notion Monday because, unlike many high-profile skaters in retirement, she has not been performing in ice shows that would keep her skating skills sharp.

“I have not been skating professionally, so as an athlete, it might be a little bit difficult to participate at the exhibition gala,” she said.

Two active skaters who could receive plenty of attention in PyeongChang are the North Korean pair of Ryom Tae Ok and Kim Ju Sik.

They are the only North Korean athletes in any sport to qualify Olympic entry spots for their nation. But it’s unknown if those spots will be filled.

North Korea has not submitted an application to participate in the Games, said Do Jong-hwan, South Korea’s minister of culture, sport and tourism.

“We are very much waiting for them to come, and we are very much hopeful that they will participate at the Games,” he said.

A PyeongChang Olympic spokesperson said that 82 nations have delivered applications so far. That’s close to the number of nations expected to compete at the Winter Games.

In 2014, a Winter Olympics record 88 nations and one independent Olympic participant took part.

The last nations to qualify Olympic figure skating spots in September needed to confirm their plans to the International Skating Union to use those spots by Oct. 30.

The ISU has not responded to a Tuesday morning email asking if North Korea confirmed that it plans to use its pairs spot by the deadline.

“I’m also very curious and waiting with a little bit of uncertainty and hopeful that North Korean athletes will participate [in PyeongChang],” Kim said. “When I was an athlete, there was no opportunity to meet North Korean athletes.”

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MORE: Yuna Kim makes South Korea sports Hall of Fame after reported rule change

Yuna Kim makes South Korea sports Hall of Fame after reported rule change

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Vancouver Olympic champion figure skater Yuna Kim became the ninth and youngest person inducted into South Korea’s sports Hall of Fame on Wednesday, according to South Korean media.

Kim, 26, would have made it last year — receiving 80 percent of a vote — but was ineligible due to a mandate that inductees must be 50 years or older, according to the JoongAng Ilbo newspaper, which reported the rule was abolished this year.

“Those who were inducted into the Hall of Fame were veterans for sports community, and I feel that I’m too young and not qualified to be named a sports hero,” Kim said Wednesday, according to Yonhap News Agency.

Kim made the Hall of Fame this year over candidates including the first South Korean Major League Baseball player (Chan-Ho Park), the first South Korean to win an LPGA Tour event (Se Ri Pak) and South Korea’s all-time national soccer team goals leader (Cha Bum-kun).

Others already in the Hall of Fame include Sohn Kee-chung, who won the 1936 Olympic marathon while South Korea was under Japanese rule, and wrestler Yang Jung-mo, who won the first Olympic gold medal for South Korea as an independent nation at Montreal 1976.

Kim retired after taking a controversial silver medal at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and is now a prominent ambassador for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games, the first Winter Olympics in South Korea.

VIDEO: South Korea’s 12-year-old national champ tries quad Salchow

You Young, 11-year-old South Korea figure skating champ, signs with Yuna Kim’s agency

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You Young, the 11-year-old who broke Yuna Kim‘s record as South Korea’s youngest-ever national figure skating champion, signed a three-year deal with Kim’s management agency, according to South Korean media.

“I began skating after seeing Kim win the gold at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics,” You said, according to the Korea Times. “I have always dreamed of becoming a respectable figure skater like Kim. I’m honored to have joined her agency.”

You, who is 4 feet, 7 inches, according to Agence France-Presse, landed seven triple jumps in her free skate at the South Korean Championships last week.

Watch her short program here and her free skate here.

Kim won her first national title at age 12 in 2003.

“She is even better than I was,” the retired Kim, who was in attendance at the South Korean Championships, said of You, according to AFP.

Sadly for South Korea, You is too young to compete at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Games, the first Winter Olympics to be held in South Korea.

MORE: Kim: About 90 percent of my career was hardship