[SPORTS] Hyo Jung (Halie Kim) - Olympian Short-Track Speed Skater
- Hyo Jung Stays on Track for U.S.
To her friends at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado
Springs, she's Halie Kim. By any name, short-track speedskater Hyo
Jung Kim is an impressive talent who's on target to earn
international acclaim at the Turin Olympics.
Kim, 16, won each of her 11 races last week at the U.S. short-track
championships en route to the overall title and a place on the U.S.
team at the World Championships, which begin Friday in Beijing. A 5-
foot-6, 122-pound dynamo with uncanny power and control, she has
overcome the hazards of a perilous sport and the pain of a chronic
shin injury to join the world's elite.
Born in Seoul, she began speedskating "because I was very sick when
I was younger and my parents want to make me strong."
Her parents are Korean, but her father, Kim Soo Hong, became a U.S.
citizen while he worked in California. The family moved back to
South Korea to further her father's career with the multinational
construction firm AMEC, whose projects have included rebuilding the
World Trade Center and the Pentagon after the Sept. 11 terrorist
attacks. As a result, she speaks little English. Through her
father's citizenship, however, she had U.S. citizenship at birth.
After deciding to skate for the U.S. in the 2003 world junior
championships, she moved to the Olympic training center in January
2004. A cousin, Teddy Ko of Fullerton, a high school teacher in
Paramount, keeps an eye on her. Other extended family members live
in Tustin and La Mirada.
"I never really thought of being a Korea team member. I always
thought my training would be to be a U.S. team member," she said
with translation help from Ko. "I miss my parents, but I like it
here in Colorado Springs. At first it was very hard to study
English, but my roommate [Cherise Wilkins] and everybody helps me
If she's as quick a study off the ice as on, she has nothing to
fear. She ranked seventh on the World Cup circuit this season and
was unstoppable at the U.S. championships in Milwaukee.
"I'm very pleased with my performance, despite the fact I was
worried about my physical well-being," she said, referring to the
shin injury that kept her off the ice for a month early this
season. "My times were better than I expected.
"Because of my injuries, I was a little apprehensive, but I did
better than I expected."
Given to shy smiles and giggles, she collects keepsake key chains
from her travels and enjoys being treated like a little sister by
teammates Allison Baver, Apolo Anton Ohno and Rusty Smith of Sunset
"Rusty helps me get my blades nice and straight and clean," she
said, "and everyone pitches in."
She's excited about the prospect of competing at the Turin Winter
Games, less than a year away, but she knows nothing is certain in a
fast-paced sport where disqualifications are common and often
"Every meet anywhere is difficult," she said. "However, I do feel
If she wins a medal, she wants to be in the record books as Hyo
Jung, to honor her heritage. But, most important, she wants to help
the sport reach the level of popularity here that it enjoys in
countries such as South Korea.
"Right now, basketball, baseball and football are the sports in this
country," she said. "I hope someday the sport will grow. It is
growing and hopefully I will be a part of that."
Baker's in a New Pool
Besides a new title and team to coach, nothing is different from Guy
"My job hasn't really changed," said Baker, who switched from
coaching the U.S. women's national water polo team to coaching the
men's team. He will make his men's coaching debut Friday at the Four
Nations tournament in Hamm, Germany.
"The whole idea is to help develop the sport," he said. "The
potential for USA Water Polo can be unlimited."
Baker, who led the women to a silver medal at the Sydney Olympics
and bronze at Athens, took the men's job in January, a month after
the resignation of hard-driving Ratko Rudic.
A few weeks later, Baker assumed the additional duties of director
of high performance for USA Water Polo, which entails coordinating
the men's and women's programs and national teams. His wife,
Michelle Pickering-Baker, was appointed the national team director
of operations after spending six years as the team manager.
Under Rudic, the men's team finished sixth at Sydney and seventh at
Athens. With Baker, the U.S. women won the 2003 world championship,
gold at the Pan Am Games and the two Olympic medals. Finalists to
succeed him are Newport Harbor High Coach Bill Barnett, North
Hollywood Harvard-Westlake Coach Rich Corso, men's junior national
team Coach Doug Peabody, and Heather Moody, captain of the 2004
women's Olympic team. The selection is expected to be announced next
Leaving the women's team "was real difficult," Baker
said. "Agonizing. And probably still a little painful. But I'm
excited about how we're going to restructure [USA Water Polo].
"I needed to get my hands around the men's program. The women's
program is going to be strong for a long, long time. I feel
comfortable that the women's program has everything in place for
long-term success. The men's program needs work, organization-wise
and administrative-wise. It's easier for me to be involved this way."
With most U.S. mainstays playing in Europe, Baker this week has only
two players with senior national team experience goalkeeper Genai
Kerr and attacker Spencer Dornin. But that gives him a chance to
look at goalkeeper Chay Lapin of Long Beach Wilson High, center
forward JW Krumpholz of Foothill High, and defender Shea Buckner of
Villa Park. If they play well, they could return for a qualifying
tournament next month in Mexico that will determine if the U.S.
advances to the World Championships in Montreal this summer.
"Talent-wise, I think we'll do a good job," Baker said. "We'll have
a nice nucleus returning . These players will be put in a position
where we'll see what they can do."