By Kim Hyun-cheol
Local figure skating fans will soon be able to feast their eyes on star athletes on the ice, including the trio of male single skaters who claimed the top spot on the podium at the last three Olympic Games.
Alexei Yagudin of Russia and Adam Rippon of the United States are the latest to confirm their participation in the Hyundai Card Super Match X - Medalist on Ice show to complete its lineup, Sema Sports Marketing, co-host of the event, said Tuesday in a statement. The show will be held in Seoul on June 5 to 6.
Yagudin's will appear along with fellow Russian Evgeni Plushenko and Even Lysacek of the United States, who have already been booked, to form the golden triad again, which sent the audience into raptures at last year's event.
Yagudin won the gold medal at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, followed by his archrival Plushenko four years later in Turin, Italy. Plushenko had his shot at a second straight gold at Vancouver, but came second to Lysacek in a tight competition.
American prospect, Rippon is familiar to a lot of Korean fans for training with Kim Yu-na's coach Brian Orser at the Cricket Club in Toronto, Canada. The 20-year-old skater appeared at the Kim-hosted Festa on Ice last year.
The show features all the gold medalists from Vancouver except for Kim. Pairs and ice dancing winners, Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo of China and Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada, will also feature in the show.
The Korean phenomenon was invited to the event, but couldn't make it due to her schedule, Hyundai Card said.
Consequently, the Japanese female skaters will again be the headliners this year. Vancouver silver medalist Mao Asada and former world champion Miki Ando will lead the female participants, along with Vancouver bronze medalist Joannie Rochette of Canada.
Indeed, it's not likely that the show will see Queen Yu-na in the lineup, considering the past history between the skating star and Hyundai Card.
As an emerging prospect, Kim was supposed to join the show back in 2007, but ended up being the only one to put on a show to soothe anguished local ticket buyers after all other foreign participants withdrew from the event following a fire at the venue.
Hyundai Card later faced criticism that the company took advantage of Kim to get away with the responsibility for the failed event. It was also involved in controversy the next year as it scheduled the show at a time when Kim would be training in Canada, and invited Japanese Mao and Ando instead.
An interesting incident could rekindle the pros and cons concerning the Japanese headliners, as this year's Super Match show will fall on June 6, Memorial Day here.
A bunch of teenage local hopefuls ― Kim Min-seok and Lee Dong-won in men's single and Park So-yeon and Claudia Muller in women's singles ― will try to fill the void left by the Korean superstar.
Tickets are available online at www.privia.hyundaicard.com and www.ticketlink.co.kr, with prices ranging from 30,000 won to 130,000 won.