Posted : 2018-01-12 16:24
Updated : 2018-01-12 19:15

Teen figure skater Cha aims to pick up experience in PyeongChang

Korean figure skater Cha Jun-hwan speaks during a press conference in Seoul, Thursday. / Yonhap

By Baek Byung-yeul

Korea's teen figure skater Cha Jun-hwan needed a big rally to qualify for the PyeongChang Olympics Sunday.

Before the third and last leg of the Olympic trials, the 16-year-old was 27.54 points behind Lee June-hyoung for his country's lone spot in the men's singles figure skating. Given Cha was suffering hip and ankle injuries, Lee was expected to represent his country in PyeongChang while Cha had his eyes on the next Winter Games in Beijing.

However, an unexpected scene was revealed in the third trial as Cha finished first to edge out Lee by 2.13 points.

Recognizing the expectations of others, Cha didn't reveal a specific goal for his first Olympic showing but vowed to put everything he has into preparing for the Games.

"I could make it to the Olympics after going through three Olympic trials. There have been good times and bad times during the trials but I have done my best. I tried to be confident," Cha told reporters during a press conference in Seoul, Thursday.

Cha won't compete in the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships starting Jan. 22 in Taipei, as he is focusing on rehabilitating his injuries. He is scheduled to train in Canada starting this week with his coach Brian Orser, who also coached retired Olympic figure skating champion Kim Yuna.

While Orser has said Cha will aim to improve on his top-10 finish in PyeongChang, Cha said he has not set a specific goal. "I believe I can get a good result if I put forth my best effort. I haven't set specific target scores or rankings for PyeongChang. I think all the skaters competing in the Olympics are better than me. I just want to do my best."

When asked about the possibility of winning a medal in PyeongChang, Cha said these Olympics will be a great chance to gain experience for his future career. "It's better to have a big goal for the Olympics, but I am planning to focus on putting my best effort out there with the best program."

While Kim Yuna pioneered Korea's figure skating scene, winning the country's first Olympic gold medal for women's singles, no male skaters have had her presence.

With expectation that Cha would be the Kim Yuna of the men's singles, fans have called him "male Kim Yuna," but Cha said he feels pressured by the nickname.

Cha said he had been suffering pain in his ankle and hip from his first Olympic trial in July.

"Though I felt pretty bad at that time, I have had a lot of treatments. I don't feel I am in perfect shape but it is improving. I will try to maintain my best condition for PyeongChang," Cha said.

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