DURBAN, South Africa, July 5 (Reuters) - Borrowed skates, a tiny ice ring and a surface resembling a cheese grater, Olympic figure skating champion Kim Yuna found herself in unfamiliar territory on Tuesday as she pitched South Korea’s 2018 winter Games bid.
The International Olympic Committee will choose the winning bid on Wednesday with South Korea’s Pyeongchang running against Germany’s Munich and France’s Annecy.
Kim, who won gold at the Vancouver Olympics last year, is part of the Korean city’s bid team and will be pitching their proposal to the IOC hours before the vote.
On Tuesday, “Queen Yuna”, as she is known to her fans, held court at Durban’s ice ring, a far cry from the world’s showcase stadiums in which she usually competes.
Kim tentatively took a few steps on the rough ice before quickly grabbing an assistant’s arm as she slipped and stumbled to the centre, watching a dozen young girls twirling around her.
“These skates are not mine,” she told Reuters. “I borrowed them. This all is so different from what I am used to.”
“I saw the ice ring on the way to the hotel. But it is too small to practise,” she said.
Kim, however, said she would be more sure of herself when she pitches the bid to IOC members, having already done one presentation in Lausanne, Switzerland, in May.
“I am a little excited and a little nervous at the same time but I have experienced already one presentation,” she said.
Pyeongchang looks to have a slight edge over Munich in its third consecutive candidacy, after narrowly missing out on the 2010 and 2014 Games.
“Our team has been preparing the bid for almost 10 years now. I am athlete and I have been inspired by other skaters. I hope that young skaters will be inspired by Pyeongchang’s bid,” Kim said as she hobbled off the ice. (Editing by Ed Osmond)