Teen figure skater grabs milestone medal at junior event
Posted : 2016-12-11 20:16
Updated : 2016-12-11 20:38
Teenage figure skater Cha Jun-hwan performs during the International Skating Union Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in Marseille, France, Saturday. Cha won the bronze medal with a total of 225.55 points. / Yonhap
South Korean teenage figure skater Cha Jun-hwan captured a milestone medal at a major junior competition in France on Saturday.
Cha finished third among six skaters with 225.55 total points at the 2016-2017 International Skating Union (ISU) Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in Marseille, France, on Saturday.
The 15-year-old is the first Korean man to win a medal at an ISU Junior Grand Prix Final. He earned 153.70 points in Saturday's free skate, two days after scoring 71.85 points in his short program.
Dmitri Aliev of Russia won the gold medal with 240.07 total points. He was the leader after the short program with 81.37 points, and also topped the field in the free skate with 158.70 points. His fellow countryman, Alexander Samarin, scored 155.44 points in the free skate to finish in second place with 236.52 points overall.
The top six skaters after seven Grand Prix events qualified for the Grand Prix Final. Cha won two Grand Prix events ― one each in September and October ― to earn his spot in France.
Cha trailed three Russians after the short program. Dmitri Aliev was the leader at 81.37 points. Roman Savosin held down the third spot at 72.98 points.
The first to perform in the free skate, Cha opened with a clean triple lutz-triple toe loop combination. He then nailed a quadruple salchow, the most difficult element in his program, and followed it up with solid triple jumps.
In the latter half of the program, however, Cha botched the landing of his triple flip, costing himself a full point. He managed to close out the program with a clean spin, and waited to see where he would finish.
Cha remained in first place after two more skaters finished. Then Samarin moved to first place with a strong free skate.
Next up, Savosin only managed 139.41 points in the free skate to lose his slim short program lead over Cha, ensuring the South Korean would finish no lower than third. Savosin ended in fourth place with 212.39 points total.
Aliev, the last to skate, established his new season best in the free skate to clinch the title.
The only other South Korean to reach the podium at a Junior Grand Prix Final is former Olympic champion Kim Yu-na, who won the ladies' singles during the 2005-2006 season.
Training with renowned Canadian coach Brian Orser, Cha is considered an outside medal hopeful at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games. (Yonhap)