Figure skater Kim decides on American Oppegard as new coach

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Olympic figure skating gold medalist Kim Yuna hired American Peter Oppegard as her new coach on Tuesday, ending much speculation following the South Korean's sudden split with Canadian Brian Orser.

Oppegard is married to the sister of five-times world champion Michelle Kwan of the United States, who Kim admired growing up, and won a bronze medal in the pairs event with Jill Watson at the 1988 Calgary Olympics.

The 20-year-old skater has moved to Los Angeles and will train for the upcoming season out of the East West Ice Palace.

Kim and Kwan have developed a close bond and the two have performed together on several occasions, including a show last weekend in Los Angeles.

"It's been a great experience training with other skaters and also with a new coach," Kim told reporters. "I feel that it's been a new motivation for me to move forward.

"I really look forward to skating here more permanently and with a new coach and a new environment.

Oppegard has coached several skaters but has mainly specialized in pairs.

"We were ... very excited to have her here and she's been training here in the rink now to prepare for her show and just did a very successful show," said Oppegard. "We're very, very pleased that she's decided to stay on with us and continue to work here at East West Ice Palace."

The most famous female athlete in South Korea, Kim credited Orser for her dazzling gold-medal performance in February when she earned record scores in the short and free programs, but that did not stop her terminating her four-year association with the Canadian.

Kim shocked the figure-skating world when, without giving an explanation, she announced in August that she was splitting from Orser and leaving her training base in Toronto.

(Writing by Steve Keating in Toronto, Editing by Frank Pingue)