Figure Skating: I’m More Suited for the Olympics – Chapter 10 Raise Your Hand

Shen Liu was startled by the noise from the side of the phone. He quickly opened the curtains and looked at the lawn below. He breathed a sigh of relief when he saw no one harassing his athletes.
As the largest gathering of physically fit humans on Earth, the Olympic Games, coupled with the generally open-minded attitude of athletes from Europe and America, sometimes lead to the consumption of tens of thousands of condoms in the Olympic Village after the Games. Recently, this fact has left some athletes bewildered.
Fortunately, the Chinese delegation of athletes was well-managed, and everyone abides by the rules. Since Shen Liu arrived at the Olympics, he has lost count of how many times he has silently praised the regulations and systems of his country.
Next, Shen Liu expressed his curiosity.
“What’s going on? It sounds like they’re slaughtering pigs over there.”
“Slaughtering pigs? It’s just my tiger roar. Zhang Jue is doing soft training.”
At this moment, Zhang Jue stood on one leg, lifting the other leg straight up, with the calf against the back of his head.
He had been in this position for quite a while, and now his legs were trembling with fatigue.
Zhang Junbao supported his eldest nephew’s shoulder to help him stand firm and lectured the young man: “Stop whining. You’re not even halfway there. I visited the Southern Dance School before. Their warm-up is tougher than yours. Young people shouldn’t be afraid of a little hardship.”
Zhang Jue, on the verge of tears, protested: “My dear uncle, the Southern Dance School is a gathering place for girls, and moreover, it is the most rigorous dance technique training school in the country. How can I compare with them?”
As a male, he could never surpass females in flexibility, it was a physiological limitation!
Zhang Junbao remained expressionless: “Your leg control ability doesn’t seem stronger than those girls either. I’ve seen top male dancers from the Northern Dance School; they have comprehensive development in flexibility, explosiveness, and control. Come on, endure a bit more. If you don’t endure the hardship now, and you make a mistake on the competition stage, the judges won’t give you extra points just because you look good.”
Zhang Jue sarcastically thought, as you’ve mentioned those are top dancers. It’s quite unreasonable to demand the same from a kid like me.
Then, the elder uncle started chatting with Shen Liu.
“Younger brother, having fun in Vancouver… Is the Olympic Village really that chaotic? Oh, if little Jue can participate in the Olympics in the future, I’ll have to stick to him like glue… Hehe, I think he’ll definitely make it to the Olympics. I’m not boasting, this kid’s physical talent is extraordinary. Its the first time I saw a boy’s legs bend like that, when he does the splits, he can lift his front leg and place it on two bricks, just like those girls who practice artistic gymnastics.”
Zhang Junbao’s tone sounded like a starving traveler seeing a table full of delicacies. His tone full of happiness could be heard across the ocean.
Shen Liu was also pleased but reminded him: “Take it easy. Health is an athlete’s most important capital. When little Jue says he’s uncomfortable, go easy on him.”
Zhang Junbao’s mouth twitched: “Hey! This kid can actually go up on tiptoe when he’s dancing ballet. He can also spin in circles while kicking drumsticks. I haven’t been as tough as his dance teacher.”
They chatted for a while, and Zhang Junbao, still eager, put down Zhang Jue and waved to him.
“Go for dryland jumps. When you’re done, switch to ice skates.”
Zhang Jue responded and, while on the ground, did a one-handed front flip, followed by a spin and a powerful lift of the leg, executing a dryland 2A.
Others training on the ice were amazed at this jump. Despite Zhang Jue’s explosive power being criticized by his uncle, it was due to his exceptional flexibility and skating talent overshadowing his strength. In reality, his jumping ability was above average among his peers.
During the on-ice jumping class, Ming Jia, a skating coach who had some free time, took the opportunity to observe Zhang Jue as his uncle spoke on the phone. Suddenly, someone tapped his shoulder.
Startled, he turned around and sighed in relief, smiling as he called out: “Coach Song.”
The person was Song Cheng, the head coach of the H province team.
Song Cheng watched Zhang Jue’s dryland jumps with a somewhat concerned tone, praising: “The boy’s air rotation speed is extraordinary, even faster than those undeveloped female singles.”
In figure skating, completing jumps involves not only the height reached during takeoff but also the rotation speed in the air.
Zhang Jue, not having gone through puberty yet, had limited muscle strength, resulting in average jump height. However, Song Cheng, with his keen eyes, quickly noticed that Zhang Jue relied on rotation speed to execute his jumps.
The drawback of relying on rotation speed for jumps is that once an athlete goes through physical development, gains weight, and loses the lightness, their rotation speed drops significantly, affecting jump performance. Many promising young skaters who excelled before puberty struggled afterward due to this.
Song Cheng finally understood Zhang Junbao’s meaning after he finished the call.
“Don’t worry, little Jue doesn’t rely solely on rotation speed. If you don’t believe me, I’ll let him jump for you on the ice.”
He then called out to his nephew: “Little Jue, you can go on the ice now. Start with a set of 3T, 12 repetitions, and then show Coach Song your new consecutive jumps.”
Zhang Jue, upon seeing the provincial team head coach standing nearby, politely greeted them before swiftly running to change his shoes.
When Zhang Jue performed jumps on the ice, Song Cheng, initially surprised, realized what Zhang Junbao meant.
Zhang Jue could delay his rotation!
In a triple jump, athletes typically start rotating as soon as they leave the ice. Zhang Jue’s technique was different. He completed one rotation at the highest point of his jump and then finished the remaining two rotations during the descent—a technique known as delayed rotation.
In the entire figure skating community in China, skaters who could perform delayed rotations in triple jumps were rare. It was a skill reserved for those with exceptional natural talent, as it indicated a mastery of the jump, especially given Zhang Jue’s lack of height in his jumps.
Song Cheng exclaimed: “This is incredible! His jump height is not as high as Shen Liu’s or Chen Zhu’s, so where does the airtime come from? How can he delay the rotation?”
Ming Jia calmly explained: “He doesn’t jump very high, but he covers a lot of distance.”
Zhang Jue’s high skating speed allowed him to cover a great distance, enhancing the airtime. Coupled with a high rotation speed, Zhang Jue could effectively execute delayed rotations.
Moreover, Zhang Jue could perform delayed rotations not only in a single 3T jump but also in single 3S jumps, as well as in combination jumps like 2A+3T, 3T+3T, and 3S+3T. Even for the recently learned 3Lo, with a success rate of less than thirty percent, he could still execute delayed rotations.
For Zhang Jue, using delayed rotations for jumps had become a habit.
Song Cheng finally realized that this kid, Zhang Jue, was a genius! No wonder his uncle, once he started coaching him, no longer had backaches or sore legs and could run fifty laps around the track every day with high spirits. Encountering such a promising talent, Zhang Junbao must be overjoyed.
Thinking again about Zhang Jue’s birthday, well, he was born in June, so he could directly enter the junior category in the next season.
Song Cheng counted on his fingers: “Figure skating seasons start in September. The first half is from September to December, and the Grand Prix is the only A-level event during this period. The first stop of the Junior Grand Prix happens to be in China. I can contact the national skating association and secure a spot for Zhang Jue. As long as he can make it to the top four, we can arrange for him to compete in the second stop!”
The Grand Prix consists of six regional events, and athletes need to participate in two regional events, earning points based on their placements. The top six skaters with the highest total points enter the Grand Prix Final.
Sadly, no Chinese junior men’s singles skater has ever reached the Grand Prix Final in the Junior category. In the senior events, male skaters from China have also failed to make it to the Final.
However, with Zhang Jue, his potential was so high that Song Cheng was willing to work towards providing him with a chance to compete.
At this point, Zhang Junbao revealed an expression like he was presenting a treasure: “He’s not just good at delayed rotations.”
Then he called out to Zhang Jue; “Little Jue, show our head coach a gesture!”
Zhang Jue responded and, while performing a 3T jump, instead of keeping his arms tight to his chest to maintain the axis, he raised them high in a clasped position. Watching this, Song Cheng eyes lit up.
On February 17th, the fourth day of the lunar new year, the Winter Olympics men’s singles short program officially began in Vancouver.
Speaking of men’s singles in Vancouver, it could only be described in two words: captivating and mesmerizing.
Perhaps it’s because the event organizers were from North America, and North American men’s singles had not produced a skater capable of consistently landing a quadruple jump in recent years. Anyway, under the current rules of the International Skating Union (ISU), program completeness is prioritized over jump difficulty. If a skater can land a quadruple jump but makes a mistake, their performance score will drastically drop.
Conversely, a skater with lower jump difficulty, but who performs stably without errors, can still receive high scores.
This led to the American men’s singles skater, despite lacking a quadruple jump, winning gold and silver in various competitions throughout the season, making him a strong contender for the Winter Olympics men’s singles gold.
The Russian skater hailed as the king of quadruple jumps, the Swiss skater known as the king of spins, the Japanese skater who excelled in performance and also landed quadruple jumps, and the French skater with a massive female fan base due to his handsomeness—all of them paled in comparison to the American skater.
After all, the other top skaters could land quadruple jumps in their routines, but the success rate of a quadruple jump in men’s singles is at most sixty percent. How could they compete with the stability of the American skater?
But since the Winter Olympics only occur every four years, winning gold at the Winter Olympics was the highest honor in the entire figure skating discipline. To win, even skaters who could perform quadruple jumps began opting for a more secure route.
Therefore, China’s top skater, Shen Liu, was baffled to find that, except for the iron-headed Russian skater, he was the only one in the entire competition to perform a quadruple jump in the short program. But he not only executed a quadruple jump, but he also raised his hands while jumping 3F.
Yes, he used the difficulty posture he learned from Zhang Jue during his jumps.
Although Shen Liu did this to gain more Grade of Execution (GOE) points from the judges, opting for difficulty in a time when everyone sought stability made Shen Liu appear as a reckless maverick.
His courageous effort earned him the strong approval of the current era’s men’s singles figure skating champion from Russia.
When Zhang Junbao, who was at his older sister’s house for a meal, tuned in to Channel 5 to watch the Winter Olympics men’s singles event, he discovered that their country’s skater, despite landing a quadruple jump and miraculously avoiding any mistakes in all his jumps, was ranked third in the short program.
In figure skating events, the top three skaters in the short program get to participate in the medal ceremony.
In other words, China’s men’s singles had, for the first time, produced a skater eligible for the Winter Olympics medal ceremony. It was simply a miracle!
Standing stiffly on the podium between the Russian skater on the left and an American skater on the right, both wearing proper smiles, Shen Liu had a fluctuating expression of “I actually received a medal?” and “I’m actually third in the short program?”
Zhang Junbao, sitting next to Zhang Jue, spat out a mouthful of freshly squeezed orange juice. Under Zhang Qingyan’s worried gaze, he slapped his thigh and burst into hearty laughter.


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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Nozomi

    I love how I know exactly which figure skaters it’s subtly mentioning, just with bonus insert of non-existant chinese skater at olympics…

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