Updated: Wednesday, 19 February 2014 11:05 | By Agence France-Presse

'Queen Kim' takes to the ice at Sochi Olympics

South Korean figure skating queen Kim Yu-Na will take to the ice in Sochi on Wednesday in the final competition of her glittering career as US ski star Ted Ligety gets another shot Olympic glory.


'Queen Kim' takes to the ice at Sochi Olympics

South Korea's Kim Yu-Na trains during a figure skating practice session at the Iceberg Skating Palace, during the Sochi Winter Olympics, on February 16, 2014 - by Jung Yeon-Je

Defending champion Kim is seeking to become the first woman to win back-to-back Olympic titles in figure skating since Germany's Katarina Witt in 1988.

Standing in her way will be long-time rival Mao Asada of Japan and Russian prodigy Julia Lipnitskaia who, at just 15, became the youngest female figure skater in 78 years to win a gold medal after helping the Olympic host nation seal the inaugural team title.

Dubbed "Queen Yu-Na" by her adoring fans, Kim, who won the world championships for the second time last year, has already announced that the Sochi Games will be her final competition.

The South Korean's world record scores across the board in her stunning performance in Vancouver four years ago still stand but her Olympic season has been hampered by a right foot injury.

"I heard a lot about Julia Lipnitskaia. She just debuted in the senior level, but this is my last Olympic Games. I think the experience here is different for both of us," said the 23-year-old.

"For me I am not focusing on winning the gold medal twice. I am focusing more on taking part in the Olympic Games rather than winning twice," she added.

The short programme takes place on Wednesday, with the free skate the following day.

- Men's giant slalom -

On the slopes of Rosa Khutor, Ligety and French tyro Alexis Pinturault will get another chance for a medal in the giant slalom but will face fierce competition from Austrian hot shot Marcel Hirscher.

Pinturault and Ligety  -- second and third in the World Cup giant slalom rankings behind Hirscher -- were among the favourites for last week's super-combined but both missed out on the podium.

"I'm just going to push hard on Wednesday, I know where my skiing can be and this season I've had lots of ups and downs in other races and results, but still put together fast runs in giant slalom," said Ligety, the reigning world champion.

"There are a lot of guys who can be fast for sure, but myself, Hirscher and Pinturault are going to be the tougher guys to beat," he predicted.

Elsewhere on Wednesday, the ice hockey action hots up as the competition reaches the knock-out stage.

Russia will face Finland, Sweden will square off against Slovenia, defending champions Canada take on Latvia while the USA will battle the Czech Republic.

A total of eight gold medals are up for grabs on Wednesday. 

Czech speedskater Martina Sablikova defends her Olympic crown in the women's 5,000m as she takes on Ireen Wust of the Netherlands, who will be seeking her fourth medal in Sochi.

The Netherlands have swept four podiums in speed skating and won 19 of 27 medals up for grabs at the Adler Arena in a strikingly dominant showing.

Other events to be decided are the men's and women's parallel giant slaloms in snowboarding, the women's bobsleigh, the men's and women's cross country team sprint classic races and the biathlon mixed relay.

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