Olympic face-off: Japan's Mao Asada and South Korea's Kim Yu-Na are hot favourites for gold

Kim Yuna performing at the 68th South Korean National Figure Skating Championships at Goyang on January 5
Kim Yuna performing at the 68th South Korean National Figure Skating Championships at Goyang on January 5AFP

In the hallowed halls of figure skating fandom, Japan’s Mao Asada and South Korea’s Kim Yu-Na are the reigning queens.

Both skaters, who faced off in the last Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics in an epic showdown of skills, are due to compete again in the figure skating competition at the upcoming Sochi games.

Fans thought Asada’s elegant routine, filled with dizzying triples, would land her the gold. But Kim pipped her with a memorably flashy routine set to a James Bond medley.

Comparisons between the two are inevitable as, born 20 days apart in 1990, they have been competing against each other since they were junior skaters.

Here's a quick rundown of vital stats on the two women who are idolised in their respective nations.

Mao Asada

Born Sept 25, 1990 in Nagano, Japan 

First woman to master the triple axel at age 15. Despite landing this difficult jump at the 2006 World Junior Championships, she came in second after Kim. She also made the brave decision to rebuild her skating techniques because she was having difficulties landing her jumps. She will be coming into the competition as a bit of an underdog given Kim’s almost Terminator-like technical skills.

Watch Asada at the 2013 Grand Prix Finals in Fukuoka, Japan last December where she fell on her triple axel landing. Despite fumbles, she still nabbed the top spot.

Kim Yu-Na

Born Sept 5, 1990 in Bucheon, South Korea

Only woman to record a triple flip-triple toe loop combination in competition at the 2008 World Championships. Diagnosed with a slipped disc in 2007 and dogged by a persistent hip injury, she still skated her way to the 2010 Olympic gold medal. Watch Kim Yu-Na in her comeback long programme at the World Figure Skating Championships 2013 in Ontario last March. Look out for the jaw-dropping combination of double axel, double toe, double loop at the 3:08 mark. No wonder judges gave her the top spot even though she had not skated competitively for two years prior to the competition.