January 09, 2017 11:30
The latest performances from two teenage figure skaters have fueled hopes that Korea may be on the verge of producing another star of the caliber of Olympic champion Kim Yu-na, whose achievements on ice mesmerized the world.
Cha Jun-hwan and Lim Eun-soo won gold medals in the men's and women's singles events at the National Figure Skating Championships in Gangneung, Gangwon Province on Sunday.
After dominating the short program with a score of 64.53 points on Saturday, Lim topped Sunday's free-skating segment with 127.45 points. Kim is the only other female figure skater in the history of the 71-year-old competition to have earned more than 190 points.
To the theme from the musical "Miss Saigon," Lim executed all seven jumps, step sequences and spins perfectly. After delivering a flawless performance she was overcome with emotion as she was congratulated on the podium by Kim. International Skating Union age restrictions requiring figure skaters to be over 15 on July 1, 2017 mean that Lim, who is 14, will not be eligible to compete in the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
Cha grabbed the men's title with a total of 238.07 points. He earned 156.24 points in the free skate and his short-program score of 81.83 was the first ever to surpass 80 points.
Cha has put in some impressive performances recently, setting a new world record at the ISU Grand Prix in Yokohama, Japan in September last year and winning the bronze medal at the Grand Prix Final in Marseille, France in December.
His rapid rise can be attributed to sheer effort. Cha, who grew more than 10 cm last year, spends three hours a day on strength training and has all but perfected his signature jump, the quadruple salchow. He is aiming for a podium finish in Pyeongchang.
The national championships served to inaugurate the skating venue for the Pyeongchang Games, providing a test run for Korea's skaters. In March, Lim and Cha will compete in the World Junior Figure Skating Championships in Taiwan.
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