Preparations for the next Olympics must start now
Cha Jun-hwan (22, Korea University) became the first Korean to win a silver medal in the men’s singles event. Lee Hae-in (18, Sehwa Girls’ High School), who competed in the women’s singles, also won a silver medal, reaching the podium for the first time in 10 years since Kim Yuna’s victory in 2013.
At the World Championships, the second most prestigious event after the Olympics, Korean figure skaters won two valuable silver medals. This was the second best result after the host country Japan, which won three gold medals (men’s and women’s singles and pairs), and the United States, which won one gold medal (ice dance), one silver medal (pairs) and one bronze medal (men’s singles).
Even 10 years ago, Korean figure skating bet everything on only one Kim Yu-na. However, the legacy left behind by Yuna Kim had a great influence on her juniors. Athletes who grew up watching Yuna Kim perform well in various competitions stood on the podium at international competitions.
In the 2021-2022 season, when the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics were held, Korean figure skating received the best performance since Kim Yu-na. Cha Jun-hwan, who competed in the Beijing Olympics, ranked 5th in men’s singles, and Yoo Young (19) placed 6th in women’s singles. In addition, Kim Ye-rim (20, Dankook University) ranked 9th in the women’s singles, and two players achieved the ‘Top 10’.
Cha Jun-hwan won the ISU Four Continents Championships held prior to the Olympics. Also, Shin Ji-ah (15, Yeongdong Middle School) won her silver medal in the women’s singles at the Junior World Championships last year.
Korean figure skating in the 2022-2023 season far exceeded the results of last season. Two silver medals came out at the most important event, the World Championships. Also, at the Junior World Championships held in Calgary, Canada last month, Shin Ji-ah won a silver medal in women’s singles, and Lim Hae-na (19) and Quan-ye (22) won a silver medal in ice dance.
In this season’s ISU Senior Grand Prix Series, Korean athletes combined for one gold medal, one silver medal, and three bronze medals. In the Junior Grand Prix series, he swept 2 gold medals, 7 silver medals, and 5 bronze medals. The number of medals was 14, which was second only to Japan, which swept 20 medals.
Looking at these indicators, Korean figure skating had the best season ever. In particular, the results of the Junior series brightened the future.
However, there is still a long way to go before becoming a true figure skating powerhouse. Russia, the strongest country in figure skating this season, was punished by the ISU for invading Ukraine. In the end, Russian athletes were not able to stand on various international stages, not to mention competitions organized by the ISU.
Japan, which had been pushed back by Russia, did not miss the opportunity to rise to the ‘strongest country in figure skating’. Also, Korea took advantage of this opportunity and achieved results that exceeded expectations. Given the current situation, it is unclear whether Russian players will participate in international competitions in the next 2023-2024 season. However, there is a possibility that they will return to the ice someday and the current figure skating game will be overturned again.
The journey to the 2026 Winter Olympics in Milan-Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, three years later, has already begun.
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The current potential of Korean figure skating is very encouraging. As for the women’s singles, even after Kim turned 20, she had her best season, displaying her best skills. This season she has participated in a total of 8 international competitions, winning 3 gold medals, 2 silver medals and 1 bronze medal.
The growth of Hae-in Lee, who failed to fulfill her dream of participating in the Beijing Olympics, was a ‘fresh shock’. Although he failed to achieve his dream of participating in the Olympics, his ultimate goal as a figure skater, he won the Four Continents Championships the day before he was born and won the silver medal at the World Championships.
Kim Chae-yeon (17, Surigo), who is looking forward to the next season, also placed 6th in the World Championships, where she participated for the first time. She is highly likely to try the quadruple jump and triple axel in the future, so her competitiveness in international competitions is expected to become stronger.
Even in the juniors, there are a lot of up-and-coming players with outstanding skills. Shin Ji-ah won the silver medal at the Junior World Championships for the second year in a row. Kim Yoo-jae (14, Pyeongchon Middle School) is the second Korean female athlete to successfully land a triple axel in a real match after Yoo Young. He placed 4th in the Junior Championships, and Minsol Kwon (14, Mokdong Middle School), another promising player, took 5th place.
In the men’s singles, despite the poor player base, promising players appeared one after another. Kim Hyeon-gyeom (17, Han Go-go) came in 6th at the Junior World Championships, where he first participated. Seo Min-gyu (15, Kyung Shin-jung) won the bronze medal at the 6th ISU Junior Grand Prix last October.
In addition, Choi Ha-bin (14, Miyangjung), who succeeded in a triple axel in an actual game as the youngest player in Korea and attempted a quadruple jump, is also a promising player to keep an eye on.
Ice dancing Lim Hae-na and Quan-ye Joe and pairs Cho Hye-jin (18) and Stephen Adcock (28, Canada) are also encouraging. Thanks to their appearance, Korea has been able to participate in the Team Trophy, a national figure skating competition.
The problem is the system that forms the basis for them to grow. The characteristic of figure skating is that only ‘investment’ is made until sponsorship is obtained. There are not a few people who have given up on their dreams because it requires a considerable amount of money without a fixed income.
Since the days when Kim Yuna was active, the issue of support for figure skating prospects has been raised. However, several issues such as the establishment of a professional ice rink could not be achieved due to friction and practical problems.
How about the case of nearby Japan? After the appearance of Midori Ito, who became the first female athlete to successfully land a triple axel, the ‘figure skating boom’ in Japan took place in earnest. Compared to North America and Russia in the past, the number of ice rinks was small, but since then, the number of players has increased and the search for promising players has begun. After opening a contest to find talented players, finding players to nurture, training camps were held to enhance competitiveness in international competitions.
Sponsorships from private companies and local organizations also laid the foundation for their growth and completed today’s ‘figure skating powerhouse’.
In addition, it provided training grounds for world-class players, including Russia, to its country, and provided opportunities for Japanese players to train with them. The hosting of many international competitions also helped the players in their country to experience big competitions.
The reason why a player’s life is long is because there are sports management companies and sponsors who continue to support him even when he is old. Hanyu Yuzuru (29, Japan) competed in his third Olympics (2022 Beijing Olympics) last year at the age of 28. Daisuke Takahashi (37, Japan), who played an active role in Japanese male figure skating in the past, turned to ice dancing and is running as an active player until this year at the age of 37.
In the case of Korea, since 2015, KB Financial has been selecting and providing scholarships to 10 promising athletes with the goal of ‘development of figure skating in Korea through sponsorship of promising youth’. Compared to the past when there was no support, the situation has improved a little, but the ‘self-investment’ that has continued since Kim Yuna’s days is still the same.
After putting on the Taegeuk mark, you will have a chance to receive sponsorship only when you perform well in international competitions. Before reaching this stage, there are many people who thoroughly solve most of the problems at their own expense. Also, after graduating from college, there is no business team, so you lose the power to continue your career for a long time. Most male athletes retire after graduation due to livelihood and military problems.
Of course, it may be unreasonable to compare it with Japan, which has a much wider base than Korea and has a thick player base. However, it is desperate to do what can be solved one by one in the current situation.
In August of last year, the national figure skaters trained for the first time at a camp in Jincheon, North Chungcheong Province, for a month. Figure skating, an individual event, travels a considerable distance for ground training, weight training, physical therapy, and choreography practice.
National figure skaters were able to solve this problem at the Athletes Village, where various facilities for athletes were gathered. Kim Ye-rim said, “The camp training at the Jincheon National Training Center was very meaningful and felt a lot.
Male singles Lee Si-hyung (23, Korea University) said, “I trained at the Jincheon National Training Center for a month, and it was very helpful to me.” He added, “Due to the nature of the event, I had a lot of individual training. However, I also learned cooperation and teamwork with my colleagues.”
Those who experienced the training camp in Jincheon National Training Center cited the fact that the distance traveled was short and they were able to focus only on training as their strengths. In fact, some of the national team players who trained together last summer achieved good results in international competitions. 카지노사이트
Looking back at the 2022-2023 season, a new plan is to create a better environment by expanding the camp training at the Jincheon National Training Center this summer.
In addition, there is a desperate need for a method of nurturing players from a young age on a long-term basis without missing the global trend. It is also necessary to create a ‘place of experience’ where many domestic players can directly see and feel the flow of figure skating by hosting international competitions.
The achievements of Korean figure skating this season are very meaningful. However, if she is content with this and stays where she is, her dream of winning an Olympic medal in Milan-Cortina d’Ampezzo three years later could become a mirage.