Figure Skating: I’m More Suited for the Olympics – Chapter 15 Thirteen

His teacher might be praising him for his good music taste but engaging in fight was still not right.
As the sports prodigy who won championships in the 100 meters, 300 meters, and long jump at the school sports meeting, nearly being recruited by the school’s track and field team, Zhang Jue could easily run to the office and report the incident rather than personally engage in a fight, leaving a group of people battered.
After watching the whole incident, teacher Zhou felt that this kid can really fight. Young boys are generally hot-blooded, so a little correction might still be good.
He told Zhang Jue: “Write a 500-word self-critique, submit it tomorrow.”
As for Liu Kun, an accomplice in the wrongdoing, he’s immediately stripped of his position as vice monitor and assigned a 1,000-word self-critique.
For Zhang Jue, when he got into school he was unwilling to take on leadership roles in the class to avoid additional responsibilities while studying. However, Liu Kun seems genuinely regretful.
Zhang Jue hoped that this kid learned his lesson, perhaps he’ll become even a better person.
Due to Zhang Jue’s smaller stature, fighting five taller boys was not a walk in the park. There ware also noticeable injuries on the thugs.
Parents have to be invited, and Liu Kun and Liu Guang’s parents become reasonable. They bowed to Zhang Jue and apologize, making Zhang Jue feel awkward.
Chen Sijia was sent back to the classroom by teacher Zhou. The middle-aged teacher with a bald head doesn’t want to involve the female student as another victim in this mess.
The parents of the other thugs acted like it was a routine. Their kids misbehave, and they are used to being summoned by teachers. One parent was even too lazy to attend and only requested more homework for the child.
Surprisingly, Zhang Jue’s side has the most extreme reaction from the parents.
Xu Yan and Zhang Qingyan ware at work, and the one rushing over upon hearing the news was Zhang Jue’s uncle, Zhang Junbao. Without saying a word, he grabs Zhang Jue’s ear.
“Got skills now? Just played with the sports school people a few times and already dared to start a fight? No more going to the sandbag at the kickboxing club, and no sneaking into the judo club’s classes, got it?”
The scolding was painful, and those who had endured the beating show expressions of deep regret, understanding why Zhang Jue’s actions were so professional.
Zhang Junbao continued: “You’re an athlete, and your health is your most valuable asset. What if you get hurt in a fight? How will you deal with it? After July, you’ll be in the junior group. Do you think your current state is fit for achieving good results internationally?”
“Your triple toe loop success rate is not even sixty percent, the angle of the back inside edge jump is never deep enough, the rotation is not smooth, and you’re still in the mood to fight?”

Shen Liu interjected: “He’s not as bad as you say. His skating is still good…”
Zhang Junbao waves his hand, looking annoyed.
What he doesn’t say in front of others is that, as an athlete, if Zhang Jue gets entangled in a violent incident and the person he fought with persists in dragging him into it, the provincial team leaders will definitely penalize Zhang Jue. Then, it’s uncertain whether he can still participate in competitions.
With a series of slaps, Zhang Jue, scolded harshly the one who won the fight. But those who got beaten looked a bit sympathetic toward Zhang Jue and the others.
One parent steped forward: “Alright, the kid just didn’t want to be bullied. It’s not his fault.”
Another nods: “Exactly, how about I treat you all to dinner?”
Although the parents mean well, Zhang Jue, being an athlete, can only eat pork, beef, and lamb in the provincial team’s cafeteria to avoid accidentally ingesting any forbidden substances. So Zhang Junbao politely declined their invitation, took Zhang Jue by the collar, and left.
Zhang Jue doesn’t have to attend the late-night self-study sessions like other students in the provincial school because coaches become more relentless in training as the competition season approaches.
Zhang Jue can only console himself that this was the life of an athlete, he chose it, no matter how hard it was.
Days go by in a busy manner. By June 29th, after finishing a training session with a triple Lutz followed by a double toe loop and another double toe loop, Zhang Jue saw Madam Miya waving at him from the edge of the rink.
After his on-ice training, he goes to practice dance with Madam Miya. He happily greeted her: “Good evening, Madam Miya.”
Madam Miya give him a nod and handed him a gift box adorned with a bow.
Zhang Jue, confused, took it: “What’s this?”
“Your birthday present, delivered from Peijia.”
Zhang Jue, realizing that Peijia was the Russian nickname for Xuejun, hesitated for a moment, then opened the box. Inside lies a bookmark with a butterfly-shaped flower, and on the back was a beautiful line of text.
He reads it slowly: “Greetings for your birthday.”
The butterfly flower, also known as the white flower oil vine, blooms around the Qingming Festival, symbolizing joy and happiness. Zhang Jue saw this flower in Zhang Qingyan sketchbook on the first page.
The blooming season of the butterfly flower is around Qingming, and Zhang Qingyan said that during her birth, the butterfly flowers at home were in full bloom. Her family said she had a special connection with this flower and almost named her Qinhe.
Madam Miya casually sais: “Didn’t you gift him hand cream on Peijia’s birthday? He said it’s excellent, so this is a return gift.”
Zhang Jue learned that Xuejun birthday was in early April. He thought that medical personnel always had to disinfect, and their hands suffered from the ravages of disinfectant and talcum powder. Some people in their early twenties had hands that looked more weathered than those in their forties. So, he sent a few tubes of Yumeijing hand cream, but it didn’t reach Xuejun on his birthday.
So, when Zhang Jue’s birthday approached, Xuejun prepared the gift in advance and sent it to his grandparents, asking them to give it to him on his birthday.
Zhang Jue was now officially 13 years old.
According to the International Skating Union’s rules, athletes who turn 13 before July of that year will be placed in the Junior category (13-19 years old). Two days later, on July 1st, Zhang Jue officially became a member of the Junior category.
Other coaches all say that Zhang Jue has a good birthday, just turning 13 on time.
The coach of the women’s team was especially envious: “What a waste to give such a good birthday date to a boy. Our women’s singles are even more jealous.”
The prime period for ladies’ figure skating is very short, peaking early. For example, there was a former top skater in the provincial team who had outstanding results before puberty, nearly breaking into the top ten globally. However, at the age of 17, as her body began developing and body fat increased, she lost half of her triple jumps, leading to a reluctant retirement.
Unfortunately, skating regulations stipulate that athletes must turn 15 before July to move up to the senior division. The provincial team’s top skater’s birthday was in December, meaning she was delayed in moving up by more than half a year compared to others. Moreover, this occurred during the time of the Turin Winter Olympics, causing her to miss the event held once every four years.
If she had a birthday like Zhang Jue’s, with the peak skills of a top skater during her prime, there would have been hope for her to excel in the Winter Olympics, much like Shen Liu.
In mid-August, after most of the summer vacation had passed, Zhang Jue, along with Ma Xiaobin, Liu Yeming, Zheng Jialong, and young athletes in the women’s singles, pairs, and ice dance categories, boarded the train to Beijing under the guidance of Coach Song Cheng and their respective coaches.
The figure skating season was divided into the first half and the second half, with the only A-level competitions in the first half being the Grand Prix of Figure Skating and the Junior Grand Prix.
However, due to limited slots, the national sports administration requires provincial teams to conduct internal trials before the official start of the season to determine which seeded athletes will participate.
During lunch, coaches distributed nutrition-packed boxed meals to the young team members.
Zheng Jialong sighed: “I don’t have the 3+3 combo, only the 3+2. I’m just here to make up the numbers.”
Ma Xiaobin wasn’t optimistic about his own situation either: “I still can’t complete the 3lz, and the outside edge on the loop jump is too difficult. I twist my foot every time.”
Zhang Jue muttered: “Why do I feel that the inside edge on the loop jump is even harder to control? The inside edge on the 3F makes my foot ache.”
Liu Yeming handed him a pear directly, saying: “Give it a rest; you have the best chance of being selected among us. Compete well; currently, you’re the only one in our team who can rival those top junior athletes.”
Although Liu Yeming was the former top skater in the provincial team’s junior division, Zhang Jue, at that time, was the second-best in the junior men’s singles, right after Fan Zhaoying. After Fan Zhaoying suffered a serious injury, Zhang Jue might even represent China in the World Junior Figure Skating Championships held in April.
Liu Yeming felt defeated.
Generally, the top 24 in the short program can advance to the free skate. Liu Yeming only competed in the short program, meaning just a round of performance. It’s evident how badly he performed at that time.
It was said that after the World Junior Championships, when the top three winners stood on the podium, Liu Yeming’s eyes were red. He had carried the expectations of many people to the World Junior Championships but not only failed to bring honor to his country, he didn’t even make it to the free skate.
Liu Yeming’s technical skills were actually good, with all five types of triple jumps in his repertoire, including 3S+3T and 3T+3T. However, he also had some fatal weaknesses.
He wasn’t adept at the forward takeoff A-jump, and the stability of his 2A was extremely poor. Additionally, his skating was average, and his performance lacked expression.
Even with these flaws, Liu Yeming was the best junior men’s singles skater in the country at that time. Some experienced figure skating enthusiasts could easily recall his name. When he arrived at the national team’s ice rink, Coach Sun Qian also called his name, saying he had seen his 3lz during training, high and far-reaching, very beautiful.
The head coach encouraged the young skaters: “As long as you become more stable, you’ll be even better.”
Speaking of stability, the H Province team couldn’t help but look at Zhang Jue, the true top-seeded men’s singles skater of H Province.
Before departing for the national team, the H Province team had already held a competition. However, no matter how many times others faltered due to nervousness, Zhang Jue always remained as steady as ever.
In a discipline like figure skating, where performance is crucial, a big and fearless heart was slightly more important than physical talent.
Coach Sun Qian looked in that direction, and due to a stable viewpoint, he didn’t see Zhang Jue, the shortest in the team. Instead, he noticed Shen Liu standing beside Zhang Jue.
The head coach’s smile deepened: “Little Shen is here too, not bad. Even after retiring, he hasn’t gained any weight.”
While the adults chatted, Liu Yeming took this opportunity to pull Zhang Jue aside and introduce him to other athletes from provincial teams.
Currently, ice and snow sports in China ware dominated by athletes from the northeastern provinces with high latitudes. Only wealthier first-tier cities in the south would have ice rinks, and the cultivation of figure skating talents is limited.
“But now Chen Zhu is coaching the team in Shanghai. Although they primarily focus on developing women’s singles, there’s also a guy in men’s singles who has mastered all four types of triple jumps. His name is Shi Mosheng, 15 years old, and he’s working on perfecting the delayed rotation technique. Look, the one with a few freckles on his face.”
Chen Zhu was China’s first figure skater to win gold at the World Championships, and her achievements have remained unmatched domestically to this day.
“The one in yellow pants is Jin Zixuan from L Province, 16 years old. He went to Russia for training in May this year. He’s very good at A-jumps, some say he’s practicing the 3A, and his skating skills are also outstanding.”
Zhang Jue silently took out a pack of dried sweet potatoes, stuffed one into his mouth, and chewed with a serious expression.

“Well, they all sound impressive.”
Zhang Jue knew about Jin Zixuan. In his memory, this was the new rising star in domestic men’s singles after Shen Liu.



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