Figure Skating: I’m More Suited for the Olympics – Chapter 16 Test

“This time, the Figure Skating Junior Grand Prix consists of seven regional competitions. China will host one of them, and as the organizers, we can allocate three spots for our own athletes. However, to participate in other regional competitions, the International Skating Union (ISU) needs to be involved.”
The internal trial mainly contested the three spots for the Chinese regional competition, while the spot for the international competition required the strongest performer.
Shen Liu and Zhang Jue explained: “To qualify for the Grand Final, one must participate in two regional competitions, accumulate points, and be among the top six. Little Jue, go for it!”
Zhang Junbao was more straightforward; he grinned at Zhang Jue: “Listen, if you secure spots in two regional competitions, your uncle will personally bring fresh pig trotters to the provincial team cafeteria for you to enjoy. If you make it to the Grand Final, I’ll simmer pork knuckles for you. And if you win a medal in the Grand Final, I’ll cook a pot of mashed potatoes with chicken gravy better than KFC!”
As the provincial team prohibits athletes from dining outside, Zhang Jue, who hadn’t had mashed potatoes for a long time, couldn’t help but swallow saliva unconsciously.
He extended his trembling little hand: “Is it a deal?”
Zhang Junbao and he shook hands: “Deal!”
Then the old uncle confiscated Zhang Jue’s pack of dried sweet potatoes, saying it’s nearing the competition, and they shouldn’t let him eat high-starch foods to avoid gaining weight like a balloon. Zhang Jue looked at his uncle, opening the bag and sharing his sweet potato strips with Shen Liu, feeling a sense of sadness in his heart.
If there was a saying that desperate situations call for desperate measures, Zhang Jue’s mindset today was truly desperate.
Because everyone was in the junior category, and considering the current strength of Chinese men’s singles, Zhang Jue didn’t feel much pressure. After all, even the strongest on paper: “Golden Big Brother,” might not be his match.
This had nothing to do with technique, it was mainly due to Zhang Jue’s self-perceived positive mindset.
Golden Big Brother, recognizable to Chinese figure skating enthusiasts since 2014, was impressive with well-rounded skills—quads, high-quality 3A, excellent skating, spins, and performances, making him seem like a top-tier international competitor. However, he never managed to break into the top ranks.
This was because he had a significant flaw—stage fright, especially in crucial competitions.
After entering the senior division, things got better. Still, during his junior years, Jin Zixuan was like a wind machine, making mistakes more than three times in a single competition, with a program completion far below others.
So, despite Jin Zixuan strong skills, he remained relatively unknown until after turning 18.
While Zhang Jue was warming up, several young men from the Shanghai team had already taken the ice.
Interestingly, although male skaters ware generally chosen for their low centers of gravity, the young male skaters who came this time were all taller than Zhang Jue.
Well, this was related to Zhang Jue being the youngest. Even though they selected young skaters, most were between 14 and 17 years old, with Zhang Jue being the only 13-year-old.
Chen Zhu, the former leading figure skater in China and the first to win a gold medal at the World Championships, had mastered all five types of triple jumps in the 90s. Her technical skills were excellent, and the students she coached looked promising.
Shen Liu observed for a while and commented: “These kids have solid skills.”
Their techniques were standard, and their skating was good. Regarding spins, they somewhat reflected Chen Zhu’s style. However, one thing was noticeable—they were all too solid, lacking individual style and appearing somewhat rigid in their performances.
For young skaters in the junior division, coaches in China considered it good enough to complete technical moves without major mistakes.
Among them, Shi Mosheng had the best technique. In his short program, he performed a 2A, 3F, and 3lo+3T, all successfully executed. His use of the delayed rotation technique in the 3F was also commendable.
When his performance ended, the coaches applauded.
Barring any surprises, Shi Mosheng would undoubtedly secure a spot in the Chinese regional competition.
The young man was excited when he got off the ice, running to his coach, getting patted on the head, and being hugged by a stylishly dressed woman, presumably his mother.
Zhang Junbao sighed: “People who can afford ice sports in the south are really wealthy. Chen Zhu charges 700 for a 30-minute one-on-one lesson, maintaining at least three to four hours of training per week to ensure skill improvement. That adds up to at least 200,000 in a year. This family is undoubtedly doing well economically.”
Zhang Jue also knew that Shi Mosheng came from a wealthy family because, as a former trainee who had experience in the entertainment industry, he could easily estimate that Shi Mosheng’s mother’s outfit, including clothes, bag, and shoes, cost more than 30,000 yuan.
Next up is the L province team.
Jin Zixuan was undoubtedly the most eye-catching athlete in the entire arena. As the only one in the current national junior division rumored to be practicing the 3A jump, everyone knew he was the most formidable competitor in this competition.
Shi Mosheng watched Jin Zixuan’s performance closely, gripping his hands tightly.
Then, much to the nervous gaze of the competitors, Jin Zixuan stumbled awkwardly on his first jump.
Not only did he fall, but he also looked up towards his mother on the sidelines.
Zhang Junbao became anxious when he saw this: “What is he looking at? If you fall, you fall. Quickly get up and continue!”
The short program lasted only 2 minutes and 30 seconds, involving three jump sequences, a set of steps, and three spins. There was still time to salvage the remaining technical moves and performance aspects. Why hesitate?
Shen Liu sighed deeply: “Ah, what a pity.”
Even the discerning ones could see that Jin Zixuan’s first jump was a 3A, a triple Axel. Although his landing was far from successful, he did complete the triple Axel before the fall.
Coach Sun Qian also felt regretful.
If Jin Zixuan had recovered well after the fall, he could take the initiative to bring him into the national team. Even if he couldn’t participate in the first half of this season, releasing him for the World Junior Championships could help the Chinese junior men’s singles regain their lost honor from last year.
However, looking at it now, Jin Zixuan’s condition was far from being competitive.
For mentally fragile athletes, a failure in the first technical move directly affects their subsequent performance.
So, Jin Zixuan’s short program performance in this trial competition was indeed painful to watch.
Zhang Junbao kept furrowing his brows, feeling that watching this kid’s competition was giving him heart palpitations. When he turned around, he was surprised to see Zhang Jue calmly assisting Zheng Jialong in wrapping sports bandages around his sturdy and compact calves.
Sitting nearby, Shen Liu asked: “Should we bind the ankles too?”
Zhang Jue shook his head firmly: “No, if we bind the ankles, we won’t be able to exert force.”
Regardless of whether the athletes on the field performed exceptionally well or fell apart, with the rest of the audience either gasping or applauding, Zhang Jue remained undisturbed by external influences, focusing on his preparation. Only when his teammates took the stage did Zhang Jue lift his head, clench his fist, and shout: “Go for it!”
Seeing him like this, Zhang Junbao was completely reassured. This was an excellent athlete’s mindset—regardless of the opponent’s performance, focus on doing one’s own best.
He whispered to Shen Liu: “Look at little Jue demeanor. Doesn’t it remind you a bit of my style back in the day?”
When the old uncle was still active, he also had the advantage of a big heart. Despite not having a quadruple jump, as long as his injuries didn’t act up, he never made mistakes due to his not problematic mindset.
Shen Liu nodded in approval: “Indeed, he can jump better than you, is more flexible than you, and has the same big heart as you. He’s like an all-around upgraded version of you.”
Zhang Junbao: “…”
I’m not as good at jumping or as flexible as my big nephew, it’s really embarrassing.
Because it’s a trial competition and not open to the public, the athletes don’t need to change into costumes. When Zhang Jue took the stage, he was still wearing his black UA bodysuit.
Despite his small stature, Zhang Jue’s legs ware remarkably long, and with Zhang Junbao often having him do deep squats, his waist-to-hip ratio is impressive. When Zhang Jue takes the stage, many coaches are impressed.
Chen Zhu complimented: “This kid’s body proportions are really good!”
Zhang Jue takes off the blade cover, puts on his skates, and shakes hands with Zhang Junbao.
Uncle reminded: “I’ve said everything you need to hear. You know what to do, just give it your best.”
Zhang Jue replied: “But I have something to ask of you.”
Uncle: “Ah?”
Zhang Jue: “Get me some tissue. It’s too cold here, and I need to blow my nose.”
Shen Liu pulled out a pack of tissues: “Blow your nose quickly, and give me the tissue afterward.”
Zhang Jue blew his nose, tossed the tissue, and it landed in a trash bin several meters away.
Watching him glide to the center of the ice, calmly beating his thighs and buttocks muscles, many people realized that this little guy was genuinely not nervous.
Someone asked Song Cheng: “Is that Zhang Junbao’s nephew? Can mindset really be inherited?”
Song Cheng turned around and found that the person was Jiang Chaoshe, the national team’s skating coach.
He chuckled: “Just watch. Zhang Jue is our team’s promising young skater. Despite his size, his skills are even better than Liu Yeming.”
Jiang Chaoshe replied with interest: “I’ll be looking forward to it.”
Chen Zhu looked at the competition list and slowly read: “Zhang Jue, youth team athlete from Team H Province, born on June 29, 1997… just turned 13 less than two months ago, short program ‘Black Swan.'”
The young boy knelt on the ice, lifted his arms forward softly, like a quiet swan.
When the music of “Swan Lake” began, the boy stood up, and his aura changed. He chose the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra’s version of “Swan Lake,” a symphony with inherent grandeur and excitement, instantly making people understand that Zhang Jue was interpreting the aggressive and dark Black Swan, not the elegant and gentle White Swan.
At the moment when the oboe sounded, with interspersed accents in the music, the little swan entered a Y-turn spin, then changed into a donut shape with the entire body twisted.
This was already the most flexible spinning move seen on the ice today. If this could still be considered soft for a little boy’s body, after Zhang Jue finished this spin, he entered the steps. His unique program arrangement once again surprised everyone.
Because athletes tend to experience a drop in stamina in the latter part of the program, everyone usually places high-scoring but error-prone jumps in the first half of the program. Steps and spins are saved for later. However, Zhang Jue completely reversed this approach.
Surprisingly, he managed to handle this arrangement well. Even in simple gliding displays paired with graceful body movements, he successfully captured everyone’s attention.
Jiang Chaoshe, being a skating coach, couldn’t help but praise: “Very good ballet posture, good musical sense, all movements are synchronized with the music. Coordination is also good, and the skating speed is fast. Zhang Junbao did a good job teaching, but…”
Coach Sun Qian raised a question: “He placed the jumps later; can his stamina keep up?”
Zhang Jue’s stamina certainly kept up. It wasn’t until 1 minute and 40 seconds into the program, as the music entered a climax, that Zhang Jue began his first jump.
In the rapidly paced orchestral music, the front teeth of the blade on the boy’s right foot crisply tapped on the ice, the left foot’s blade pressed outward, and the entire body lifted off the ground.
It was a high-quality 3Lz.
Not done yet!
As Zhang Jue landed, he immediately pointed the left foot on the ice and jumped again, executing a 3T. In this jump, he used the Rippon posture with both hands raised high, directly stunning the entire audience.
Shi Mosheng exclaimed: “Impressive!”
Wasn’t this the two-handed high jump posture created by the American skater Rippon and used by Shen Liu in Vancouver? Unexpectedly, this little guy even mastered this move.
As the pace of the performance accelerated, the boy’s gaze became extremely aggressive. The madness and darkness of the Black Swan were vividly expressed through his arms, and the pristine ice turned into a stage, with Zhang Jue as the sole focus!
This kind of infectious performance is rarely seen even in the adult division, let alone in the junior division. Lively, smooth, and intense—this kind of performance is more than enough to beat other peers on the international stage for a youth athlete!
Then Zhang Jue pointed the right foot on the ice again, pressed the left foot into an inner edge, and executed a 3F. Since the 3F was Zhang Jue’s least favorite triple jump, this jump lacked a delayed rotation and hand movement, and the landing was slightly unstable. However, Zhang Jue decisively turned around when he was about to fall, stabilizing himself without a fall.
Coach Sun Qian’s expression became joyful at this scene.
“This kid reacts quickly.”
According to the rules, falling after completing a jump results in a deduction, and it’s considered a different situation from merely landing unsteadily. Falling means an extra point deduction, but Zhang Jue didn’t panic after the mistake. He immediately adjusted himself, and even after the error, he smoothly performed the final jump, a 2A. This showed that this young athlete had the psychological qualities of a top skater!
When that Beillmann appeared, even though Zhang Jue’s spins had been criticized by Uncle for not having high rotation speed and unstable axes, everyone who had a discerning eye understood.
Zhang Jue won.


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