World record in Vancouver would hand Kim Yu-Na a $1m bonus
THE favourite for the women's figure skating at next month's Winter Games in Vancouver stands to win a $1million golden bonus if she can break her own world record in winning Olympic gold.
EXTRA INCENTIVE: If Kim Yu-Na can break her own world record in Vancouver she's in line for a big pay day (Getty Images)
The women's figure skating promises to be one of the highlights of the Vancouver Games, as it pitches the host nation's Joannie Rochette against South Korea's Kim Yu-Na in a re-match of last year's World Championships.
At 19, Kim is Korea's biggest female sporting superstar, with several major endorsement contracts, including car manufacturer Hyundai, US sportswear firm Nike, and the Kookmin Bank.
Kookmin is understood to have taken out an insurance policy late last year with a firm of brokers based in the City of London to underwrite the possibility that they will have to pay-out the skater's bonus.
Kim has been based in Toronto since 2006, where she is coached by Brian Orser, twice the Olympic silver medallist. She was too young to compete at the Turin Winter Olympics four years ago, but has featured on the podium at the last three world championships.
In Los Angeles last March, Kim's combined score was a world record 207.71 points to seal her first world title. No woman had previously scored 200pts.
Her performances, including a world record score in the short programme, drew standing ovations from the spectators at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, with pundits comparing her impact on the sport to Torvill and Dean or Katarina Witt.
Kim finished the competition more than 16 points ahead of Rochette and more than 17pts ahead of the 2007 world champion Miki Ando, of Japan, who edged her teammate and former world number one, Mao Asada.
Kim did lose one competition in the 2008-2009 winter season, being beaten by Asada in front of a Korean home crowd in an International Skating Union Grand Prix.
With Asada hoping to be injury-free in Vancouver, Kim's hopes of landing the gold medal and million-dollar bonus may depend on her landing two triple axels in the same programme, as she did in Los Angeles, a unique feature of her performance.