I've written about Kim Yuna before, and probably will again. I'm mad about this lady.
First of all, as a sportwriter once wrote about Tiger Woods: "You will never be as good at anything, as Tiger Woods is at golfing" - you will never be as good at anything you do, as Kim Yuna is at figure skating right now.
The Korean internet is crashing right now, because everybody wants to watch Kim Yuna's skating video. Do you know how hard it is to make the Korean internet crash? (Not hard, if you mean Korean web browsers [IE6, baby!]... but I mean the Korean INTERNET) is not responding to my requests for anything Yuna. So I want to give you a video clip, but the clip won't play, because 50 000 000 other people are trying to watch it right now.
I did, however, get to watch it on TV, live. It'll be replayed a lot, but seeing fresh, that first time, with everything still up in the air, was a thrill. And dear readers, Kim Yuna NAILED THE HELL out of that program. I watched a few other skaters before her, and it was like watching a different sport entirely-- except Asada, who is also amazing. Her movements were so clean, her jumps were technically perfect. So Yuna rocks.
(I missed the performance of Joannie Rochette, the bronze medalist, and a Canadian. Good for her, especially after losing her mother this week. Sorry Canada, but this time I'm rooting for Yuna... and here's why)
Dear readers, Korea needs Kim Yuna. Actually... Korea doesn't need Kim Yuna. Korea has other heroes and such. But young Korean women need Kim Yuna. In particular, young Korean girls need Kim Yuna, because here is a woman who is famous for being really excellent at something, for working hard at something spectacular and beautiful, and achieving it. The heroes Korean girls have to work with are pretty slim pickings. There's the girl who was tortured to death for protesting Japanese colonialism. (with the hate Japan subtext) there's the woman who was an amazing accomplished poet, painter, and thinker... whose image has been manipulated into that of a good mother and dutiful wife (with the mother/wife/get in the kitchen subtext). There are a few more modern female heroes who are getting in the mix - I'm fond of Yi Soyeon, the first Korean in space, and a female, but she's been mostly out of the public eye since then.
But here's where Yuna shines:
First, she's AS cute and charming as the pop starlets that everybody idolizes , and that young girls want to be like (unfortunately, this is still a requirement for Korean female role models: Ye Soyeon and gold medal powerlifter Jang Miran are cool, but not conventionally beautiful, and I doubt a lot of little girls say they want to be like them when they grow up, and I bet parents would discourage their daughters from becoming powerlifters). The Wondergirls, Girls Generation, and the like, are cute, charming, whatever, but the fact is, they're famous more for shaking their lovely asses (and singing and making asian poses at cameras) than anything else. Yuna's telegenic enough to totally run with that crowd.
But then on top of that, she set a goal, to be the best in the world at something, and NAILED it. She did what she had to do, including living in Canada and sequestering herself from her own fans, withdrawing from competitions to focus on Olympic gold... and then when the day arrived, she didn't just rise to the occasion, she vaulted 23 points ahead of her nearest competitor (who also set personal bests), and 15 points ahead of her own personal best. She looks cute making heart fingers... but she's also got the eye of the tiger, as surely as Michael Jordan did.
And she's been chasing excellence, not fame, not beauty, not a rich heir boyfriend, not praise for her domestic skills, and she did it. Really did it. And every little girl in Korea should dream of becoming excellent at something, and stopping at nothing to reach her goal, and that would be great.
So today's a happy day for Korea. And for me. Watching her long program (short one too) approached the sublime, and the mounting jubilation of the people around me as she nailed jump after jump, heightened the experience that much more. It's a great day for Korea.
That's all for now. Way to go Yuna.