Figure Skating: I’m More Suited for the Olympics – Chapter 12 The start of school

About a month after the Vancouver Winter Olympics, Zhang Jue started school.

The 24-year-old young man sat in the classroom, holding a hot water bottle and dozing off. As it had only been a year since the Olympics, his classmates seemed a bit lax. His appearance also didn’t seem out of place.

When the class teacher, Old Zhou, entered, Zhang Jue immediately woke up.

Old Zhou was a middle-aged man with a bald head holding a thermos of soaked wolfberries, with a serious expression. He asked a few strong boys to help move books, then distributed books, talked about class rules, and spent 20 minutes lecturing to wake up the students. The main theme was inevitably “study well and don’t waste precious time.”

Zhang Jue still lacked enthusiasm, and the reason was simple—his phone battery had run out during yesterday’s training.

He attended a provincial junior high school. While his parents supported his figure skating, they absolutely wouldn’t allow him to transfer to a sports school. So, Zhang Jue had to get up early, ride his uncle’s car to school for training. The biggest cost of this was that Zhang Jue often had to see the city of H at five in the morning.

But joining the provincial team was still a good thing. This meant that Zhang Jue no longer had to sneak onto the ice when the offcial team members weren’t using it.

From now on, he could use the equipment openly, enjoy subsidies as a formal team member, have his own cafeteria card, eat free nutritious meals made by the cafeteria aunt, and receive teachings from coaches of other provincial teams.

Most importantly, Zhang Jue could finally escape his uncle’s wild massages and stretching techniques.

After experiencing a team doctor’s stretch, the next day, Zhang Jue spent ten yuan to buy five savory meat buns as a gift to the team doctor in appreciation.

Generally speaking, the youth men’s singles of the provincial team were mainly led by a coach named Wang Yi. However, Zhang Jue’s situation was special.

Everyone knew that Zhang Junbao had previously coached two promising talents, but in just a few days, those two kids were coaxed into training pair skating. This was because China’s pair skating had better international results so the leaders paid more attention to it.

Especially in this Winter Olympics, the first brother and sister of pair skating, Jin Meng and Yao Lan, won gold together, securing China’s first gold medal in figure skating at the Olympics so everyone was more than willing to train pair skating.

Now that he had finally brought his nephew over, Zhang Junbao didn’t want anyone to interfere. So, Coach Song Cheng personally declared that Zhang Jue was Coach Zhang’s disciple, and no one was allowed to snatch him, even if Coach Zhang’s nephew was indeed a good talent that made all other coaches envious.

If we talk about it, Zhang Jue was indeed a good-looking child with black hair, fair skin, and good proportions. In the world of figure skating where “beauty” was everything, he had a natural advantage. Not only was he good-looking, but he also had high jumping talent, better flexibility than many girls, smooth skating, and a very good foundation in dance.

Of course, this time, coaches didn’t come to snatch people for pair skating mainly because the male partner in pair skating needed to lift the female partner and with Zhang Jue’s small stature… in the words of the pair skating coach Luyao: “It would also be possible for his female partner to lift him.”

So far, except for Zhang Jue himself, no one in the world believed that he could grow to one meter seventy-nine as an adult, rounded up to one meter eighty.

To be honest, Zhang Jue found his days in junior high somewhat boring. He had learned the knowledge in his past life early on, and the thoughts of teenagers in their puberty were simply cute to him. After his rebirth, he somehow become a post-90s middle-aged man among a group of genuine children, which made him feel dull and uninteresting.

Comparative to that, being an athlete brought Zhang Jue more excitement and joy, allowing him to ignore the exhaustion and hardships of the intensive training.

Due to Zhang Junbao’s efforts, Zhang Jue didn’t have to go to class on Fridays, instead, he was taken for a whole day of training.

At half past six in the morning, the girls and boys started jogging around the playground while the coach leading them shouted loudly.

“Run four laps first, for the last one do frog jumps around the playground!”

With a shout from the leader, the kids immediately became serious, swinging their legs and running with all their might. Some even started grabbing lanes to secure the innermost lane.

Zhang Jue remained calm, casually hanging at the back of the line, neither allowing himself to fall behind nor participating in the lane grabbing.

Coach Song Cheng stood on the side, smiling at Zhang Junbao: “Your nephew is now the last one.”

Zhang Junbao chuckled: “Don’t worry. He is doing it deliberately. This kid has endurance. He’s running last mainly to let others block the wind. Just wait for the last two laps, he’ll definitely sprint ahead.”

Coach Zhang understood his nephew and personal disciple well. The track was 400 meters per lap, four laps in total, making it 1,600 meters. By the final lap, when others began to tire from the earlier sprints, Zhang Jue’s pace increased. His long legs moved like a windmill, and he surged to the first place.

Originally leading was 14-year-old Liu Yeming, the tallest and seemingly strongest among the same-age peers. But unexpectedly, the smallest one in the group managed to surpass everyone.

Coaches laughed: “Hey this kid is good, his endurance is impressive. He can still accelerate at the end of the 1,600 meters.”

“Nice mentality. He stays calm till the end and starts accelerating in the last lap. That’s the sign of a skilled athlete.”

“This kid knows his own abilities well. He knows he won’t finish last, quite steady.”

Passing by, a coach from the long-distance running team also joined in the laughter: “Zhang Junbao, your disciple is doing well even in the latter part, powerful leg movements. Unfortunately, when he runs, his upper body sways. Normally, a person with a short stature should have a lower center of gravity, swaying like this means instability. How about bringing him to our team for training someday? I think he can get even faster.”

Zhang Junbao immediately became vigilant: “Thanks for your kind offer, but he’s too short. His legs aren’t as long as the others. If he goes to your team, Zhang Jue won’t be able to compete with anyone. He’ll just end up demoralized.”

Everyone laughed again: “Don’t worry, we won’t poach your talent.”

Hearing them say this, Zhang Junbao felt he might have been too sensitive so he changed his tone: “Then I’ll bring Zhang Jue to play at your place in the future. Just don’t snatch him away.”

On the other side, the fitness coach shouted: “Slow down a bit. Come on, butt kicks, cross-step running. Be serious, lift those legs. Don’t let me catch anyone slacking off, do frog jumps around the field ten times!”

For athletes, running 10,000 meters was just a warm-up, running 1,500 meters was nothing. Except for the one who finished last having to do frog jumps, the others only took a short break before starting training again.

Zhang Jue had never been an athlete before, but thanks to Zhang Junbao’s demanding training, he quickly adapted to the provincial team’s regimen.

After morning training, as everyone headed to breakfast, Zhang Jue yawned.

Liuye Ming, a cool-looking kid with an indifferent expression, surprisingly had a caring and warm heart. Most importantly, he couldn’t bring himself to dislike good-looking people.

A glance from the young boy and a cough served as a reminder: “Eat quickly and take it easy. Try to rest for at least half an hour, or it will be easy to vomit during training.”

Another boy named Ma Xiaobin chimed in: “Yeah, I threw up last time.”

Zhang Jue noticed that these sports boys had straightforward personalities. As long as you had the skills, you earned their respect. Despite figure skating being known as “ballet on ice” and sounding elegant, these guys often trained under the sun on the field. The youthful athleticism and vitality, that belonged to young people, were visible in these figure-skating boys as well.

Between the cafeteria and the playground, there was also a dormitory building. When the figure skating team was halfway to the playground, they heard a commotion on the first floor of one of the dormitory buildings.

Ma Xiaobin glanced over, puzzled: “Why are all those people gathered there?”

Zheng Jialong, who was doing frog jumps as the last runner, snapped his fingers: “Wait a moment, brother will find out.”

Ma Xiaobin jumped in place: “Who do you think you are, calling yourself ‘brother’?”

Zheng Jialong jogged over, had a brief conversation with a guy who looked tall and similar to him, then strolled back with a suppressed smile.

“Hey, strange things happen every day, but today’s special. Let me tell you, there’s an unlucky guy stealing things in the dormitory building.”

The thief was first caught by the track and field team, then surrounded by the martial arts team. Despite being unlucky, the thief managed to find a gap in the encirclement and dashed out. Now, he was hiding in a dorm room, blocking the door with furniture. The weightlifting team was now discussing whether to break down the door.

Just from Zheng Jialong’s recounting, Zhang Jue could sense the despair of the thief.

Before the shot put and sports equipment teams could join the excitement, the dormitory supervisor casually opened the door with a key, kicked away the pile of tables and chairs, and executed a perfect crucifix hold to bring the thief down.

By the way, let’s explain here. A crucifix hold was a very dangerous judo move. Once executed, it was nearly impossible to escape. At this moment, with a little force, the opponent’s arm could be dislocated.

The dormitory supervisor was a professional judo athlete in his youth.

When the nearby police officers arrived to take the thief away, he was grateful and felt that being taken to a warm jail at this moment was the happiest thing for him.


Because of the commotion, everyone’s breakfast was delayed, including the coaches.

At 9:30 in the evening, after Zhang Jue finished his ballet class, he went home, did his homework, and talked on the phone with Qin Xuejun.

“… and that was it. The thief crying and throwing himself into the arms of the police uncle was a sight I doubt I’ll ever forget.”

Zhang Jue continued: “This thief was worse off than stealing from a military school. At least they have discipline, and if they catch you, the most you’ll get is a reprimand before being handed over to the police. Stealing from the sports school is simply asking for trouble.”

If he hadn’t luckily hidden in the dormitory for a while, the thief would have faced the fervent bloodlust of the young people in the sports school. When the thief was sent to the hospital, he was fortunate to be only three-quarters dead, thanks to his ancestors’ protection.

Qin Xuejun gave a rational assessment: “This thief is not simple. I remember that professional marathon runners have a much faster speed in the last 400 meters than ordinary people running 400 meters. To escape under such heavy encirclement, he indeed has some skills. He’s probably a lost talent of track and field.”

What he said made sense, so Zhang Jue laughed again.

At this time, figure skating was not the main center of Zhang Jue’s life. In addition to figure skating, he had to go to school and attend ballet classes.

Until the end of March, shortly after turning 23, China’s top male singles skater Shen Liu achieved a top-three placement in the short program again at the World Championships.

Since the rise of the Vancouver Winter Olympics, he had become more and more confident, and many believed that he, as the top skater, was maturing late but would lead China’s male singles to make history.

However, during the six-minute practice before the free skate began, he had a heavy fall while attempting a 3lz jump.


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