Korean Newcomer Wins First Gold in Men's Figure Skating

Lee Joon-hyung Lee Joon-hyung

Lee Joon-hyung became the first Korean male figure skater to win a Junior Grand Prix event hosted by the International Skating Union.

In the first ISU Junior Grand Prix event of the season, held in Courchevel, France, the 18-year-old earned 67.88 points in the short program on Saturday and 135.93 points in free skate the next day. With a combined score of 203.81, Lee comfortably beat Sota Yamamoto of Japan, who had 195.80 points, and Russia's Alexander Samarin with 179.16 points.

Lee broke his personal best of 184.14, which he set in the 2014 Four Continents Championships, by nearly 20 points. Lee also set a new Korean record in men's figure skating, breaking Kim Jin-seo's 202.80 in the 2014 World Championships.

Until now, Korea's figure skating has been all about Kim Yu-na. After Kim's retirement from competitive skating, following a silver medal performance in the Sochi Olympics earlier this year, the future of the sport here seemed gloomy due to a lack of promising figure skaters.

Lee's latest victory raises expectations for Korean men's figure skating ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

Lee will compete in another Junior Grand Prix event in Nagoya, Japan, next month.

englishnews@chosun.com / Aug. 25, 2014 11:13 KST