Figure Skating: I’m More Suited for the Olympics – Chapter 17 Yogurt

Zhang Jue’s expressive performance dealt a blow to other athletes of his age. In the domestic men’s singles field, where most focus was on jumps while lacking expressive skills, Zhang Jue, a young athlete who turned his artistic performance into an advantage, was unprecedented.
Immediately after his short program, a resounding applause filled the arena, indicating widespread recognition from industry professionals for his performance.
Post-competition, the first thing to do is to cool down the body, especially if the heart rate is elevated during exercise. It’s advisable to gradually move around to allow the body to recover in an orderly and slow manner.
While Zhang Jue has good stamina and his short program doesn’t consume too much energy, Shen Liu still collected ice pack for him to apply on his joints.
As he applied the ice, Shen Liu provided a post-game analysis to Zhang Jue. The elder brother furrowed his brows, asking: “What happened with your 3F?”
Zhang Jue coughed and replied: “I couldn’t press down the inner edge during takeoff, the jump-started poorly, and the axis at the back wasn’t stable.”
Shen Liu questioned: “Why couldn’t you press it down? Your medical report shows that your bones and muscles are healthy, and your small joint flexibility is excellent. It’s just pressing down on the inner edge; does it hurt?”
Zhang Jue explained: “I just feel that pressing too heavy might cause my foot to slip.”
Shen Liu remarked: “You’re not afraid of twisting your foot when pressing the outer edge for 3lz, but you’re worried about slipping when pressing the inner edge for 3F? What’s the issue?”
Shen Liu and Zhang Junbao jointly handled Zhang Jue’s training. While Zhang Jue was a sensible kid, he could be quite stubborn when he wanted to. Zhang Jue enjoyed playing football after training, and even managed to learn the “golden hook” once, causing quite a scene.
Apart from that, he had a tendency to drool over good food, despite his susceptibility to gaining weight. To help Zhang Jue control this, Shen Liu, Zhang Junbao, and the nutritionist took turns to counsel him.
But no matter how strict the training was, Shen Liu was still the more lenient one. However, in figure skating matters, he was meticulous. Even though Zhang Jue had no issues with the higher-scoring 3lz, he often struggled with the single jumps, like the 3T and 3F.
Shen Liu said seriously: “Wait until we get back. I won’t rest until I’ve fixed the issue with your 3F.”
Now, they had to prepare for the free skate program.
As expected, Zhang Jue secured the highest score in the short program among the young men’s singles in this test competition. Since he had never participated in junior-level events before, he was like a dark horse suddenly emerging in the eyes of others.
In the men’s senior division, there were only a few athletes who achieved a clean skate, and those without a triple Axel (3A) didn’t surpass Zhang Jue’s score. Zhang Jue’s program included 3lz+3T, 3F, and 2A, making it more challenging.
However, it was still unexpected for a junior-level skater to outperform the seniors!
In the ladies’ singles, it wasn’t uncommon for junior athletes to have better technical skills than the seniors, as the undeveloped physique of young females often resulted in outstanding technical abilities. For the men, their muscle strength increased with physical development, and the peak period was generally between 18 and 22 years old. It was rare for junior men to surpass the senior counterparts, making Zhang Jue the center of attention.
Due to the athletes’ stamina considerations, the free skate would take place the next day. The young men’s singles free skate had a duration of four minutes, requiring athletes to perform seven jumps, two sets of steps, and three spins. This demanded higher physical and overall qualities from the skaters, and the likelihood of falls increased.
At least, Zhang Jue had never completed a truly “all-clean” performance during free skate practice.
“All-clean” meant that all technical elements were successfully executed with a positive GOE (Grade of Execution), meaning no points were deducted due to mistakes. In today’s short program, only one skater, Shi Mosheng, achieved an all-clean performance.
When Zhang Jue appeared on the second day, he became the most anticipated focus of the audience. Many people came to watch him spin—no, to watch him spin the Biellmann. Some athletes even went to Shen Liu to inquire about the hand-raising technique.
All athletes were eager to learn techniques that could improve their GOE. Even if they couldn’t raise their hand during a triple jump, they could still try during double jumps.
One of the inquirers was even a young pair skater from the J Province team, a girl named Huang Ying. At only 13 years old, she was one of the youngest in the team, appearing even thinner and shorter than Zhang Jue. With a lively demeanor, she asked Shen Liu: “Brother Shen, how do you do that hand-raising thing? What if I try raising one hand when I’m being thrown? Does it look good?”
Her male partner, Guan Lin, immediately retorted: “Raising your hand while being thrown requires precise control of your body’s axis. When you’re thrown, the axis is determined by the force I use.”
Huang Ying pouted: “But I should be able to raise it when I’m being thrown and rotated, right? Brother Lin, this move can earn extra GOE once mastered.”
After some back-and-forth, the two decided on a new technique to try in the future. Their enthusiasm for improvement was admirable.
Zhang Junbao, upon seeing this, whispered to Shen Liu: “They are coach Sun’s first pair of students, the best pair skaters among the juniors. They’ll probably be sent to the World Junior Championships this season.”
Shen Liu responded quietly: “Not bad indeed, but the male partner is a bit short.”
In pair skating, the male partner should be tall and strong enough to lift the female partner. Guan Lin, at 17 years old, stood at only 1.68 meters, even shorter than Zhang Jue, so for pair skating he was too short. The potential of their partnership might be limited.
At that moment, people around them sighed regretfully.
Zhang Junbao didn’t even need to look; he knew Zhang Jue must have fallen while attempting the 3F jump.
His uncle sighed again: “After we go back, I’ll have to discipline him.”
Shen Liu agreed: “Yes, a thorough discipline is needed. With his small joint flexibility, pressing the edge a bit deeper won’t cause a trip. He shouldn’t be afraid of tripping; it’s unnecessary.”
Zhang Jue, still unaware of his future misfortunes, not only struggled with the 3F but also failed to maintain a proper Yan-style rotation at the end of the program. His axis tilted, nearly causing him to fall, a mistake that would result in a deduction if it happened in an official competition.
However, in the men’s singles competition, Zhang Jue surprisingly had the fewest mistakes. Jin Zixuan burst into tears right after his performance, indicating a more disastrous fall. Shi Mosheng, though steadier, also fell during a 2A and 3lo. If not for colliding with Zhang Jue, the dark horse, he might have won.
Sun Qian showed a friendly attitude towards the dark horse, suggesting that Zhang Jue shouldn’t leave the national team before the end of the summer break, encouraging him to stay for a few more days of training.
Song Cheng immediately showed a wary look, similar to the one he had when others teased him about “That boy is not bad.”
He remained composed: “Sun Qian, Zhang Jue is Zhang Junbao’s nephew, and Shen Liu has also taught him a lot. Zhang Jue is in a growth period and can’t be separated from his two coaches.”
The implication was that even if the national team wanted to recruit him, it shouldn’t be done now. They should wait until he fully matures.
Sun Qian chuckled: “Oh, of course, I know we can’t easily change a coach for the kid. I’ve seen Junbao’s coaching skills improve, so he should stay and communicate with the national team coaches. Shen Liu has quite a few old acquaintances here; it’s a good opportunity to catch up and guide the younger ones in their jumps.”
Sun Qian’s implicit message was clear: he wanted both Zhang Jue and his two coaches.
Coach Song Cheng: “…”
Truly the figure skating godfather, he lost even in terms of cheekiness.
Zhang Jue had long finished his summer homework. The opportunity to train at the high-level national team camp was a valuable experience for athletes so Zhang Junbao, despite Song Cheng’s disapproving look, bravely accepted the offer.
Sun Qian promptly assured that all expenses for the young athletes during the national team training camp would be covered by the General Administration of Sports, except for Zhang Jue. Alongside him, the pairs skaters Huang Ying/Guan Lin and ladies singles skater Mi Yuanyuan were also retained. Mi Yuanyuan was not part of the system but a member of a Beijing local figure skating club, covering all her training expenses independently.
In the evening, while Zhang Jue was doing plank exercises and reading a borrowed third-year middle school textbook, a cheerful “Lu la lu la li” echoed from his backpack.
Zhang Jue jumped up, pulled out a small white phone, and saw the shining words “Orthopedic Miracle” on the caller ID.
He answered: “Hello, Brother Xuejun.”
Qin Xuejun concisely said: “I’m at your hotel entrance.”
Zhang Jue blinked and immediately grabbed his room card, heading out.
With Zhang Junbao struggling in a handstand, he couldn’t help but comment: “At your age, you still use the theme song from ‘Piggy Hero.'”
Shen Liu glanced at him and chuckled: “If you don’t watch Piggy Hero, how would you know that’s the theme song?”
When Zhang Jue saw Qin Xuejun, he noticed that the man had gotten taller since their last meeting, probably close to 1.9 meters. Zhang Jue had to tilt his head back to see his face properly.
Upon seeing Zhang Jue, Qin Xuejun immediately crouched down.
August in Beijing was full of energy and heat. During the day, the sun was dazzlingly white, and even in the evening, it was still sweltering. Qin Xuejun wore a blue sportswear, white sneakers, and his dark hair had sweat droplets at the tips. In his hands, he carried a plastic bag.
“I was passing by, so I brought you some snacks. This is our cafeteria’s yogurt. The source is safe so you can try it.”
In the past, there was a popular competition among netizens in Beijing universities for the best campus food. Even top universities struggled to secure a stable source of milk for students. Zhang Jue, as a student from the ultimate winning school – China Agricultural University, had heard about this.
He exclaimed, took the yogurt, and excitedly asked: “Is this the legendary yogurt made with strains from the Republic of China period?”
Qin Xuejun, with gray eyes filled with amusement, said: “I don’t know where the strains come from, but the yogurt and ice cream from our school are both delicious.”
The two sat on the couch closest to the air conditioner. Zhang Jue eagerly began tasting the locally produced yogurt, a sweet and tangy dairy product that melted in the mouth, leaving a superb taste that made children squint with satisfaction.
Qin Xuejun wiped his forehead with a tissue, watching Zhang Jue enjoy the yogurt with a happy expression, and his mood improved: “If you like it, consider coming to our school in the future? By then, I’ll treat you to spicy hot pot—wait, athletes can’t eat spicy food. Then, I’ll treat you to something else. Our cafeteria has plenty of options.”
Zhang Jue hesitated: “…Uh, the admission score for your school is too high.”
Despite being in the top three of a provincial middle high school, Zhang Jue lacked confidence in challenging the top 2 universities. Training consumed a significant amount of his energy. Qin Xuejun’s school had admission scores ranging from 680 to 690, while Zhang Jue’s peak mock exam score from his dedicated studying in the previous life was only 653!
Qin Xuejun suggested: “You can apply as a sports talent.”
As soon as he mentioned this, Zhang Jue couldn’t help but feel despondent: “Brother, your school doesn’t recruit figure skating talents!”
Even though he had joined the provincial team, hadn’t they considered him using his identity as a sports talent to enter a stronger school? But when Zhang Jue thought about it, his heart immediately sank.
The popularity of winter sports lagged behind athletics, swimming, and ball sports. Top-tier institutions didn’t recruit in those niche areas!
The frustrated child exclaimed: “Even fencing talents can be recruited, but figure skating can’t! Minor sports have no rights!”
When he realized this, Zhang Jue was tempted to swear on the spot that he would become a world-class figure skater, expanding the influence of figure skating in the country. He wanted people to know: “Today you might ignore me but tomorrow I’ll make you unable to reach me.”
However, within 10 seconds of his teenage rebellion, his uncle’s ordered to frog-jump around the sports field for five laps brought him back to reality.
Oh well, whether in life or death, he’s a member of China Agricultural University. Even if it’s for the sake of 8 yuan for a portion of squirrel-shaped mandarin fish, Zhang Jue would continue to embrace his agricultural university.


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This Post Has One Comment

  1. sueshie

    i love that he’s acting like a child as it gives him the chance to live the childhood he hasn’t lived in his past life

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