Figure Skating: I’m More Suited for the Olympics – Chapter 22 The Prince

If the order of appearance in the short program was related to the athlete’s world ranking and luck during the draw, for the free skate, it depended on the ranking in the short program.
The better the score in the short program, the later the skater performs.
The top 24 athletes from the short program advance to the free skate, with the top six from the short program scheduled to skate in the last group. However, there is another draw within each group.
Zhang Jue, with his dark hands, once again drew the first position. The person in charge of the draw happened to be the same person who drew for Zhang Jue’s short program. Looking at him, there was a mix of surprise and sympathy in their eyes.
When Zhang Jue came down with a gloomy face, Shen Liu regretfully commented that they should have had Zhang Jue wash his hands before the draw started.
Zhang Junbao scolded him: “I told you not to eat dark chocolate before the draw. Look, now your hands are stained black.”
Zhang Jue felt wronged: “I’d be willing to eat white chocolate, but you won’t let me buy it.”
Coach Song Cheng kindly advised: “I have an aunt who worships a white deity at home. When we go back, do you want to ask for a protective amulet for safety and good luck?”
The coach from the neighboring province, Coach Ma, with a deadpan expression, thought: “Are these people from H province here to entertain us? Also… Song Cheng is over fifty, so how old is his aunt?”
Fortunately, this group of people never cut corners when it comes to competition-related matters. To ensure that Zhang Jue is in good condition, Zhang Junbao, carrying his nephew, used massage and assisted stretching to help Zhang Jue warm up before the official competition. The foam roller he used looked like a rolling pin.
Zhang Jue, who usually complained about his uncle’s strong hands, remained silent this time. Later, Shen Liu placed a stick on the ground and had Zhang Jue support himself on it while swinging his legs back and forth to relax his hip joints.
Shen Liu encouraged the young skater: “The free skate is a bigger challenge than the short program, but don’t be nervous. Skate the way you want when you’re on the ice.”
Zhang Junbao added: “When it’s the six-minute warm-up on the ice, don’t get too excited. Suppress that energy, and release it all at once during the competition.”
With a fist pump from his uncle, Zhang Jue nodded with a serious expression.
However, when it came to the six-minute warm-up, the atmosphere on the ice was not so much familiarizing themselves with the venue as a group of passionate and somewhat immature young people challenging each other.
Angus Joe always jumped 3F in the path where Zhang Jue was about to skate. If Zhang Jue hadn’t avoided quickly, he might have had a collision with this reckless guy on the ice.
Alex, unwilling to be outdone, attempted a 3A on the ice. Although he fell, he fully rotated!
The base value of 2A is 3.3, and the base value of 3A is 8.5. As long as it is fully rotated, even if the landing is unsuccessful, resulting in a referee GOE-3 and an additional deduction for the fall, there are still 4.5 points.
This is a form of intimidation from opponents.
Cui Zhengshu also didn’t want to be left behind and performed a 3F+3lo.
While 3T is the lowest-scoring and simplest among the five triple jumps, requiring just a toe pick from the left foot, 3lo demands extremely strong core strength. Performing a consecutive 3lo in a jump sequence means that the athlete has no time for a pre-jump glide and must rely on twisting their waist for additional lift, making it even more challenging and, correspondingly, higher in points.
Well done. It turns out that everyone sought stability in the short program, and it’s in the free skate that they’re starting to show off their exceptional skills.
Zhang Jue understood this. These people have all won championships in domestic competitions, defeating a group of peers before making it to the international stage. Each one of them is a top talent in their domestic competitions. How could they only reveal a fraction of their abilities in the short program?
He glanced at Angus Joe and suddenly executed a 3S+3lo, followed by a spin, a 1lo, and then another 3S.
Zhang Jue began an endless sequence of 1lo+3S+1lo+3S, with his petite and delicate body spinning on the ice like a small top, leaving everyone watching in shock.
Marisa heard her friend exclaim: “Does this kid have springs in his legs?”
He’s just too good at jumping!
Proudly, Marisa said: “I already told you, this porcelain doll not only has a handsome face, but he also has the skills to match his appearance.”
Huang Ying exclaimed: “The jump sequence bug is indeed well-deserved. As long as he’s not fatigued, can his 3S go on infinitely?”
Coach Song Cheng explained: “Not only 3S, but his 2lo and 2A can also go on infinitely.”
Since witnessing Zhang Jue perform 3lz+2lo+2lo… and 2A+2A…, everyone in the H province team had tacitly accepted Zhang Jue as the leader of their team.
In addition to these, Zhang Jue’s technical repertoire also included the devilish triple jump sequence of 3lz+3T+3lo with a base value of 15.4. Unfortunately, the success rate for this jump sequence in training was only thirty percent, and it was likely even lower in a competition setting.
Song Cheng whispered: “He’s a genius at consecutive jumps, with a strong sense of rhythm in the transitions between jumps. This is not just the result of training; it’s a talent he naturally possesses.”
Talent, a term that shackles many athletes, but on Zhang Jue, it was a source of joy.
So much so that Zhang Junbao was willing to scold this little genius every day.
“Do you think you’ve intimidated your opponents? Are you feeling proud now? Huh? I told you to conserve energy and focus before the main competition started, but you treated your old uncle’s words as if they were nothing!”
Zhang Junbao unreservedly took Zhang Jue’s little hand and gave it a couple of pats.
Except for the buttocks, where the flesh is thick, Zhang Junbao used a light touch when hitting Zhang Jue’s head and clapping his hands. The child couldn’t feel any pain, making it more of a lesson than a punishment. However, many people in the audience showed expressions of shock.
Oh my God! That coach was actually punishing his student! The porcelain doll looks so cute! How could he bear to do that?
Shen Liu quickly grabbed Zhang Junbao: “That’s enough, that’s enough. The child is about to compete. Stop scolding him. Come on, Zhang Jue, drink some water. Do you need to blow your nose?”
Zhang Jue took the water bottle, boldly tilted his head back, and then grabbed a tissue to blow his nose.
Zhang Junbao couldn’t help but remind him again: “Don’t blow too hard. Be careful of getting rhinitis.”
Zhang Jue stuck out his tongue, pushed his hair behind his ear, and the ear pendant shaped like a musical note on his cheek swayed, reflecting dazzling brilliance.
Wearing a dark blue jumpsuit made of lightweight and elastic fabric, with a transparent mesh design on the back, adorned with a musical note made of rhinestones. A shiny fringe adorned his waist.
He looked like an elf incarnate from a fairy tale, but his demeanor subtly revealed a kind of noble elegance. His slender and fair neck was faintly visible between the slightly long, jet-black hair.
In front of him, Shen Liu extended his hand, and Zhang Jue, holding onto it, jumped on the ice. Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath, and his emotions immediately settled.
Zhang Junbao banged the boards, letting out a full-throated roar.
“Zhang Jue, go!”
Zhang Jue nodded, turned, and glided forward.
No matter how many times, the sight of athletes turning towards the battlefield always touched Marisa’s heart. She opened her camera, aiming it at this petite Eastern youth.
She had a premonition that within this small body, there was tremendous energy waiting to burst forth, a moment that would shake everyone when it erupted.
At eight in the morning, Shi Mosheng turned on the TV and happened to catch the live broadcast of the men’s singles free skate event at the U.S. Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating.
Zhang Jue’s upper body drooped weakly, standing on the ice like a sleeping puppet.
“The Nutcracker” tells the story of a Christmas adventure involving a girl named Clara and the Nutcracker Prince. Therefore, at the beginning of the story, the sound of wind chimes formed the melody of “Jingle Bells.”
As the music started, the young boy seemed to awaken from a dream, opening his eyes and lifting his head to survey the world around him.
A smile graced his face, reminiscent of a child seeing a gingerbread man, but the look in his eyes as he gazed forward was like a prince seeing a princess in a fairy tale.
The gaze was clear and without ambiguity, yet it was enough to enchant anyone.
Shi Mosheng thought to himself that his emotions were even more in place than during the trial competition.
Zhang Jue’s first jump was the 3F, the jump he was least skilled at. The young boy lightly tapped the ice, took off, and then slipped upon landing. His whole body leaned to the side, but Zhang Jue, quick to react, stabilized himself by placing his hand on the ice.
Coach Song Cheng covered his eyes and sighed softly: “He still fell.”
The 3F, Zhang Jue’s Achilles’ heel. In the short program, he didn’t make a mistake, and everyone thought he had overcome it. Yet, he still had to fall during the free skate.
Zhang Jue’s mistake in the first jump made the coaching staff break into a cold sweat. Fortunately, by the second jump, Zhang Jue had already adjusted himself.
The crisp sound of the ice being tapped resounded, and Zhang Jue gracefully took off, floating from the jump to the landing. The delayed rotation was visibly apparent, and the Rippon pose with raised hands added a bright touch.
A beautiful 3lz.
The harp flowed into a melodious stream, and the little prince struck a welcoming pose. His expression was innocent and dreamy, and the sweetness at the corner of his mouth was adorable.
In fact, Zhang Jue’s innocence and childishness, sandwiched between adolescence and childhood, along with his mature expressive power, were precisely why Madam Mia chose this theme for his free skate program.
“The Nutcracker” is a magical ballet that fits the Christmas season, full of strong childlike qualities, suitable for family and group viewing. Therefore, it was just right for Zhang Jue to interpret this fairy tale story at his current age. Once he passed this age, even if he personally skated this program, it would feel off.
The young boy glided gracefully on the ice. Midway through, his upper body leaned back as if embracing snowflakes, then, with a swift sound, the blade slid across the ice, and he executed a 3S. Alex directly sprayed out water in amazement.

After so many years of skating, Alex had never seen anyone doing an upper body bow while doing a down crouch and then immediately performing a 3S! Even though Zhang Jue had been on the ice without leaving any trace from the start, making every move seem effortless, this was still too exaggerated, right?
Shi Mosheng widened his eyes: “He didn’t do a bow before the last 3S…”
It had only been a few days, and Zhang Jue had become even stronger than the last time they met!
Onscreen, the little prince entered a series of movements that flattened his body like a pancake, then, turning, gradually stood upright. Floating feet lifted straight up, transitioning into a Y-spin. Paired with these moves was his cheerful smiling face.
Regardless of the action, Zhang Jue never forgot to accompany it with the corresponding performance. With this insistence, the competitive event had an atmosphere resembling a ballet, even though there was only Zhang Jue on the ice. However, when he looked towards the audience, many people felt an interactive sense of “the little prince is looking at me.”
This was, of course, one of the stage techniques Zhang Jue had learned as a trainee idol, which was equally effective in figure skating.
On Christmas night, snow fell, and the little prince directed the puppets to defeat the mouse soldiers, leading the girl to the Candy Kingdom.
Zhang Jue’s dedication to the performance and the delightful dance moves made every action perfectly harmonize with the music, creating a natural and flawless performance.
As the program entered the second half, some keen observers had already noticed that Zhang Jue had saved the higher-scoring jumps for the latter part, indicating he wanted to continue using his stamina advantage in the free skate to achieve a 1.1 times base value bonus.
The exciting part began at this moment. His first jump sequence was 2A+3T+2lo, and with the added Grade of Execution (GOE), Zhang Jue’s technical score soared by 12.15 points.
The second sequence featured a raised hand 3S+3lo.
The third sequence was the delayed rotation 3lz+3T.
Two clean jump sequences added a whopping 25 points to Zhang Jue’s score! The score column shot up like a rocket, leaving many young athletes in awe.
However, even for an endurance expert like Zhang Jue, the number of jumps in the free skate was more than double that of the short program. Even after completing all the jumps, he could feel the undeniable fatigue.
His lungs were burning, and the muscles in his thighs were swollen. The power wasn’t flowing as smoothly, and his body was signaling the arrival of exhaustion. Yet, he still had a dance segment to complete, so he had to rely on sheer willpower.
The lively piano music began the most passionate and bold stage of the entire program. Ignoring the fatigue, Zhang Jue’s expression became even more cheerful, and he swung his arms open, waving them to both sides.
On the ice, the Little Prince joyfully bounced around, as if running in a candy rain. Unconsciously, the orderly beat resonated from the audience seats, and the entire arena came alive.
Zhang Jue’s powerful charisma even made some spectators unable to resist swaying their bodies, eager to dance along with him.
In the eyes of future figure skating enthusiasts, this performance was Zhang Jue’s iconic moment when he stepped onto the international stage. His unparalleled performance talent was fully displayed, captivating all the fans present.
Until the music concluded, the Little Prince pressed his hands to his lips, threw a big, adorable flying kiss towards the audience. Accompanied by a scream from a female fan, Zhang Jue raised both arms, striking a final pose.
Excited, the audience stood up, offering enthusiastic applause for this spectacular performance.
Marisa clapped her hands until they turned red, and her companions loudly praised: “Oh my god, he’s so adorable! I love this kid, his performance is fantastic!”
Zhang Junbao jumped up in excitement, turned around, and vigorously embraced Song Cheng and Shen Liu. Shen Liu’s eyes were filled with joy.
His uncle wiped his face and exclaimed: “Damn, seeing him stumble in the first jump, I thought he was going to mess up the rest. I didn’t expect this kid to be so tenacious.”
Having been in figure skating for so many years, he had been hoping to see a Chinese men’s single skater perform flawlessly on the ice and receive the highest honor in figure skating at the end of a program—a standing ovation.
Until today, Zhang Junbao thought this scene was distant from him, but Zhang Jue achieved it. He won everyone’s love with a less-than-perfect program.
At this moment, Zhang Jue had not yet left the ice, and no one had seen the scores, but the coaches had already begun celebrating the victory in their hearts.
In his debut, Zhang Jue performed impressively. Regardless of the color of the medal he would eventually receive, the passionate and adoring response from the entire audience already satisfied the figure skating fans.
The foreign elder brothers and sisters, captivated by Zhang Jue, were genuinely happy people. Each of them wanted to bury Zhang Jue under bouquets and stuffed animals. The kids picking up items were sweating profusely. When he came off the ice again, the coaches approached with smiles, surrounding him as they headed to the kiss and cry.
The audience’s reaction on-site prevented the judges, who wanted to be strict in scoring, from giving too harsh scores. So, Zhang Jue received a very impressive score this time—142.9.
Combined with the short program score of 73.13, his total score surpassed the 200-mark, reaching an astonishing 216.03!
It was unbelievable, in his first international appearance, Zhang Jue received a score of over 200 from the strict foreign judges.
Zhang Junbao was delighted with this score, hugging his nephew with a hearty and cheerful laugh: “Good job, little guy!” Shen Liu began stuffing water into Zhang Jue’s hands again, asking repeatedly if he wanted to eat roast goose after returning to China.
As Shi Mosheng watched the coaches on TV reveal surprised and happy smiles, an inexplicable bitterness welled up in his heart.
All the coaches in the country had been waiting for someone who could showcase Chinese men’s singles to the world. They had waited for too long and almost given up hope. Now that person had finally come, but it wasn’t Shi Mosheng himself.
Since arriving in the United States, Zhang Jue and Zhang Junbao had agreed that after the competition, Zhang Jue would be allowed to eat a piece of chocolate to replenish his energy. While he was replenishing his energy, other athletes were almost crushed by the pressure he brought.
Cui Zhengshu, known for his stability, was fine, but Alex fell twice in the second half of the free skate, completely losing the advantage brought by the short program. Angus Joe had been struggling since the short program and hadn’t figured it out.
So, at 20:30 Eastern Time in the United States, Zhang Jue, a young athlete from China, created a miracle.
As an athlete of East Asian descent who had never been favored in figure skating, Zhang Jue became the first Asian male singles skater to win gold in an A-level competition on the international stage.
Zhang Junbao was incredulous and joyous, lifting his nephew in a circle, tears in his eyes: “My goodness, I never thought that on our first trip abroad for a competition, we could hear our national anthem!”
Shen Liu was equally excited; it was also his first time hearing the Chinese national anthem on the international men’s singles competition stage.



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