Cha Jun-hwan Becomes 1st Korean Male Skater to Finish in Top 10 at World Championships

  • By Choi Soo-hyun

    March 29, 2021 10:22

    Cha Jun-hwan performs in the free program in the men's singles at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Stockholm, Sweden on March 27. /AFP-Yonhap

    Cha Jun-hwan has become the first Korean male figure skater ever to earn a top 10 finish at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships.

    Cha earned 154.84 points in the free skate of the men's singles in Stockholm, Sweden on Saturday, giving him a combined score of 245.99 points to finish in 10th place. He broke Jung Sung-il's 30-year-old record for the best finish by a Korean male figure skater at the world championships, which was 14th place set in 1991.

    Until recently, Cha's ranking would have entitled Korea to two tickets to next year's Beijing Winter Olympics in the men's singles, but new ISU rules regarding participation in the Winter Olympics stipulate that a country must field two or three skaters in the championships to earn two or three Olympic spots. As a result, Korea was able to secure only one ticket through Saturday's championships and will now have to wait until next month to see if it can earn another, when the ISU finalizes the number of Olympic spots each country is entitled to.

    Cha, who had to rely on painkillers to manage back pain and a torn leg muscle, said, "I will get sufficient rest before preparing for the Olympics." He will first have to go through the national trials in order to qualify for the Games.

    Nathan Chen of the U.S. claimed his third consecutive world title with 320.88 points, nailing five quadruple jumps perfectly in the free skate. He was nearly 30 points ahead of runner-up Yuma Kagiyama, a Japanese 17-year-old who won silver on his world debut with 291.77 points. Two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan struggled in the free skate and finished third with 289.18 points.

    In the women's singles, Lee Hae-in finished 10th with 193.44 points and Kim Ye-lim 11th with 191.78 points, successfully securing two berths at the Beijing Olympics. Russian skaters swept the podium, with Anna Shcherbakova winning gold with 233.17 points, ahead of Elizaveta Tuktamysheva and Alexandra Trusova, who earned 220.46 and 217.20 points respectively. 

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