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Kim settles in as Murakami gets going

by Jack Gallagher

Kyodo

Kim Yu-na participated in her second practice since arriving here at the training rink next to the Iceberg Skating Palace on Friday.

Kim went through her free skate to “Adios Nonino” and worked on several elements during a 45-minute session.

The defending Olympic and world champion was watched by a large contingent of Korean and Japanese media. Kim shared the ice with three other skaters, but they might as well have been invisible as all eyes were on the skater referred to as “The Queen.”

Kim started out slowly while warming up, popping a few jumps, but quickly picked up the pace and began landing triple and combinations jumps. She did not fall once during the entire practice.

There are still several days to go until the women’s short program starts next Wednesday, but the anticipation continues to build as the South Korean star attempts to win her second consecutive gold medal.

Meanwhile, Mao Asada and Akiko Suzuki continue to train in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. They are expected to return to Sochi on Monday.

Kanako Murakami got in her first workout on Friday morning at the same rink Kim trained in.

Murakami said she wanted to get the most out of her first trip to the Winter Games.

“I have been looking forward to the Olympics my whole life,” she said. “Of course, it is an important competition for me. The main thing for me is to enjoy this precious moment and give a good performance.”

The 19-year-old Murakami, who won the Four Continents last month in Taipei, spoke of how teammate Yuzuru Hanyu inspired her with his record-setting short program on Thursday night.

“I am friends with Yuzuru and we are the same age,” she noted. “I get a lot of power from him and, of course, after his great performance I want to try to skate as good as he did.”

Murakami’s coach, Machiko Yamada, also spoke to the media after the practice.

“She was really nervous at the Japan nationals because it was that competition that determined who would go to the Olympics,” Yamada stated. “She won the silver medal there and won the Four Continents Championship. She saw that she can skate well and get good results. That will help her skate well here. That’s why she’s not that nervous.”

Yamada said the importance of Murakami’s victory at the Four Continents could not be understated.

“It was really important, because it gave her power and strength to compete here,” Yamada said. “She is ready to fight here for the medals.”