(LEAD) Figure skater Cha Jun-hwan headed to 2nd straight Olympics after winning trials

유지호 / 2022-01-09 17:35:07
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(LEAD) figure skating-Olympics
▲ South Korean figure skater Cha Jun-hwan performs his free skate program in the men's singles during the second leg of the Beijing Winter Olympic trials at Uijeongbu Indoor Ice Rink in Uijeongbu, some 20 kilometers north of Seoul, on Jan. 9, 2022. (Yonhap)

▲ South Korean figure skater Cha Jun-hwan performs his free skate program in the men's singles during the second leg of the Beijing Winter Olympic trials at Uijeongbu Indoor Ice Rink in Uijeongbu, some 20 kilometers north of Seoul, on Jan. 9, 2022. (Yonhap)

▲ South Korean figure skater You Young performs her free skate program in the women's singles during the second leg of the Beijing Winter Olympic trials at Uijeongbu Indoor Ice Rink in Uijeongbu, some 20 kilometers north of Seoul, on Jan. 9, 2022. (Yonhap)

▲ South Korean figure skater You Young performs her free skate program in the women's singles during the second leg of the Beijing Winter Olympic trials at Uijeongbu Indoor Ice Rink in Uijeongbu, some 20 kilometers north of Seoul, on Jan. 9, 2022. (Yonhap)

(LEAD) figure skating-Olympics

(LEAD) Figure skater Cha Jun-hwan headed to 2nd straight Olympics after winning trials

(ATTN: ADDS details on women's competition in paras 5-7, comments in last 5 paras, photos)

UIJEONGBU, South Korea, Jan. 9 (Yonhap) -- Figure skater Cha Jun-hwan is bound for his second straight Winter Olympics after winning the final national team trials on Sunday.

Cha handily won the men's singles event in the second leg of the two-stage Beijing Olympic trials in Uijeongbu, some 20 kilometers north of Seoul in Gyeonggi Province. Cha finished with 283.31 points overall, with 185.00 points in Sunday's free skate and 98.31 points in Saturday's short program.

Cha had also won the first leg of the trials in December with 239.16 points. He had 522.47 combined points.

Lee Si-hyeong finished second overall to grab the second and last ticket to Beijing. Lee scored 477.85 points combined after the two trials events.

In the women's singles, You Young secured her first trip to the Olympics by winning the trials with a combined 430.08 points.

You, the 2020 Four Continents silver medalist, won the second leg on Sunday with 221.49 points overall -- 76.55 points in short program and 144.94 points in free skate.

Kim Ye-lim earned the other Beijing-bound ticket with 413.46 points in two trials events. She also finished second in the second leg with 207.64 points. Kim, too, will be skating in the Olympics for the first time.

Cha, 20, is only the third South Korean male singles figure skater to compete in back-to-back Winter Olympics. At the PyeongChang Winter Olympics four years ago, Cha finished in 15th place, the best Olympic figure skating performance ever by a Korean man.

Cha, a former child actor, isn't considered a medal contender in Beijing, but he can realistically push for a top-10 finish.

Cha ranked a career-best 10th at last year's world championships with 245.99 points. His career high is 265.43 points, set at the 2020 Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in Seoul.

"I haven't set any specific goal for myself, as far as my final ranking," Cha said. "I'd like to have a clean performance without mistakes and make sure I have no regrets afterward."

Cha landed a quadruple toe loop and a quadruple salchow early in his free skate on Sunday -- the first time all season that he successfully executed two quadruple jumps in one program.

"I feel like I've grown so much since PyeongChang," Cha said. "I've gotten better as I've gained more experience over the years."

Cha is coached by Canadian figure skating legend Brian Orser, whose long list of former students includes the 2010 Olympic women's singles champion from South Korea, Kim Yu-na. However, with COVID-19 travel restrictions in place, Cha hasn't been able to train with Orser in Toronto the past couple of years, as he had done so earlier in his career.

"It has been a while since I last worked out with Coach Orser in Canada," Cha said. "But I've been doing the best I can under the circumstances."

(END)

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