Figure Skating: I’m More Suited for the Olympics – Chapter 23 Porridge

On the windowsill, Zhang Junbao had one hand on his knee, his mouth stretched wide.
“Thanks, Sun Zhi… Rest assured, I will definitely urge little Jue, not allowing him to be arrogant… This kid is only exceptionally spirited during competitions. During training, he can drive me crazy. He always has unexpected situations. My liver, sooner or later, will be exploded by him…”
At the doorway, Shen Liu, who was chatting with his former teammates, spoke in a relaxed and cheerful tone.
“Mainly, little Jue has a good competition order… Being the first to perform, he happened to be in good condition, putting pressure on the other athletes coming after. It’s considered a strategy… Hey, what’s the point of breaking someone? This isn’t basketball. Figure skating has no direct competition. The scores depend on the athletes themselves. If Zhang Jue skates well and others don’t, then Zhang Jue wins.”
On the sofa, Song Cheng’s face was flushed.
“It wasn’t easy to win this time. Zhang Jue, this kid, was already messed up by the time he arrived in the United States due to jet lag… Well, looking at how his short program was scored so harshly, I thought getting a medal would be good. Who knew he would get gold…”
Zhang Jue, holding a box of chocolate wafer cookies, nibbled with puffy cheeks. He felt like the coaches were having a high-spirited discussion, but as the central figure of the conversation, he felt somewhat redundant in this room.
Even though there was a 13-hour time difference between the U.S. East Coast and China, the coaches’ phones had not stopped ringing since the end of the competition. It was all congratulations, and even Zhang Jue’s parents called Zhang Junbao.
In the eyes of this couple, their son seemed to be an unreliable troublemaker, and only their older nephew was reliable.
The ignored child could only focus on his mouth, concentrating on eating the rice chocolate cookies.

Zhang Jue pondered. How dire was the situation for men’s singles that this group of people could get so excited over him winning a youth division championship?
However, before this competition, it seemed that China had never won a gold medal in men’s singles in all major youth and senior competitions. In other words, including Shen Liu, no one from the group of men’s singles athletes, from active duty to retirement, had ever won a championship on the international stage. Shen Liu had never heard the national anthem played for himself throughout his entire career.
It seemed quite miserable.
But due to Shen Liu supporting for several more years before retiring, Zhang Jue quickly took his place. There had never been a break in China, so Zhang Jue wasn’t very aware of how stimulating it was for many figure skaters when there was a hiatus in talent.
With a ding, a message appeared on Zhang Jue’s phone.
Orthopedic Miracle: When are you coming back? I’ll take you to the Jing Deep Seafood Market. My treat, all-you-can-eat.
Look, this is a straightforward person. Seafood is a safe option for athletes to eat when dining out. But because it’s relatively expensive, Zhang Jue never thought of having a seafood feast. Unexpectedly, Qin Xuejun was so generous.
Little Jue: Coming back the day after tomorrow. Tomorrow, I have a performance skate.
While replying to the message, Zhang Jue thought about Qin Xuejun parents, who were a teacher and a nurse, both low-income professions. As a student, he didn’t have much income, so this time he was probably prepared for a significant drain on his savings.
If athletes eat openly, consuming 3000 calories in a single meal was not a problem, especially for Zhang Jue, a growing, male athlete who often has his diet controlled by coaches. Calling him a food tank would not be an exaggeration.
He weighed his savings and felt that he should go Dutch with Qin Xuejun when the time comes. He couldn’t let a good friend treat him, and then have only pocket change left for himself.
Speaking of which, after this seafood feast, Zhang Jue would probably only have enough money to buy a hard drive… Don’t get it wrong, Zhang Jue buying a hard drive was mainly to separate his Bitcoin storage, and these hard drives usually aren’t connected to the internet to prevent theft.
Being frugal is not stingy, but it’s not trivial to take care of money matters.
Just then, another message arrived.
Orthopedic Miracle: Will CCTV broadcast your performance skate in the Gala?
Little Jue: It’s just a performance skate in the youth division of the qualifying competition. CCTV won’t broadcast it, but the children’s channel in H Province will.
Due to age and appearance, everyone naturally classified Zhang Jue as a child. Plus, he was one of the most outstanding youth figure skaters in H Province. Therefore, there were staff members from the children’s channel who came to film the performance.
This was mutual support from hometown folks.
Orthopedic Miracle: Have you booked your flight? What time? I’ll pick you up.
Little Jue: Forget about picking me up. I’ll be arriving at nine in the morning. You have classes, right?
After a few seconds, Qin Xuejun brought the phone over, and a clear and magnetic voice came from the other end.
“I don’t have classes after five in the afternoon. Are you still staying at a hotel? I’ll pick you up and take you to the seafood market.”
“I can go to your university to find you.”
“I watched the post-match interview. Now that you’ve finished the competition, you can stroll around the Prudential Lake. It has hosted two Olympics, and there are many places worth visiting. Oh, by the way, remember not to go out at night. The public safety abroad is not as good as it is domestically.”
Zhang Jue smirked, leaned against the wall, and squatted down. In the corridor, he engaged in a lengthy phone conversation with Qin Xuejun.
In exhibition skating, there is no need to adhere to the technical movements specified in competitions. Athletes can add moves if they want, or simply perform skating routines in sync with the music. It’s quite casual and free, often featuring classic programs.
Some athletes with poor competitive records find success in exhibition skating because of their unique styles. Even after retiring, they can develop well in the field of professional performance.
An outstanding exhibition program that judges and fans like can earn a skater a better impression score, making their future competitions smoother. For example, the men’s singles champion in the 2002 Winter Olympics, when mingling with his former coach, the coach created a super funny program called “Banana” to please the judges. Later, this program became one of the three forbidden programs in the figure skating community.
Zhang Jue’s exhibition skate this year was quite simple. The program was choreographed by Zhang Junbao, and the costume was a crocodile onesie bought on Taobao.
After all, figure skating was an expensive sport. Many people already find it challenging to cover training fees and travel expenses. Quite a few second and third-tier athletes, when performing exhibition skating, wear casual clothes. It’s not uncommon for the same program to be performed for several seasons.
Although Zhang Jue receives subsidies from above, due to his lack of personal fame and lack of sponsorship, he has to be frugal.
His exhibition program was “Schnappi (Little Crocodile).”
When a crocodile with a big tail and a green body runs onto the ice, many spectators couldn’t help but smile. Several aunties were so amused that they covered their faces.
Taking advantage of his age, Zhang Jue freely sold the cuteness. He started with a head-shaking and swift lap around the rink, then followed it with a 3S jump with a raised hand.
This jump surprised many people. While there are those who can do a 3S, performing it with a big, thick tail and still raising the hand afterward was a sign of a skilled skater.
Zhang Junbao nodded knowingly: “His best is still the 3S.”
Zhang Jue was also working on the technical skill of connecting a 3Lz in a sequence of jumps. The first to master it and the most stable was the combination of 3S + 3Lz. The combination of these two jumps made Zhang Jue’s routine smooth.
The 3S is the only jump that Zhang Jue can complete with a trailing tail.
Then Zhang Jue showed off various styles of the 3S jump on the ice: hands raised, single-handed, hands on waist… Oh, the last one failed; the axis was not stable, and he fell on the ice
If asked how good this program was, Zhang Jue himself thought it was just average. After all, this program was his uncle’s debut work, and besides the four consecutive 3S jumps, he didn’t include other high-difficulty jumps.
Fortunately, the audience bought it, and the female judges on the judging panel seemed to like it a lot. When the exhibition skate ended, many figure skating enthusiasts came over to request a photo with Zhang Jue.
Zhang Jue turned around and exchanged a glance with Shen Liu. Shen Liu nodded encouragingly: “Go.”
Zhang Jue said: “Coach, I think you want to ask them to translate their words. My hearing is not good.”
Shen Liu replied: “… With your current state, what will you do during the high school entrance exam? Even if you do well in other subjects, you can’t neglect English, you know?”
Zhang Jue thought that he didn’t neglect English; he just neglected listening comprehension. His written test proficiency was not bad, but he couldn’t understand or speak well.
I wonder how Shen Liu communicated with the figure skating fans. Those fans, during the photo, stood politely next to Zhang Jue, not daring to put their arms around him or touch his arms. Zhang Jue, in a crocodile onesie, cooperated by smiling politely at the camera, looking cute and a bit funny.
When they separated, a blonde lady handed him a little crocodile plush toy and said a long string of words.
Shen Liu told Zhang Jue: “She said she wishes you continuous victories in the upcoming season and that she’ll buy tickets to come to China to watch your competitions.”
While translating, Shen Liu couldn’t help but marvel. My, oh my, with good looks and strong skills, is Zhang Jue going to have a rich fan now?
Figure skating has more female fans, and some enthusiastic wealthy female fans will buy tickets to watch their favorite athletes worldwide. Among them, those wealthy housewives in Japan with considerable assets ware the cream of the crop.
Zhang Jue held the plush toy, showing a cute smile, and replied: “Thank you for your support.”
The porcelain doll-like smile made the blonde lady ecstatic. Unable to resist, she reached out to shake Zhang Jue’s hand before leaving.
Zhang Jue held her cold hand and shook it. He noticed that her hand was quite cold. Zhang Jue sincerely advised: “Wear more in the ice rink and remember to drink hot water. Don’t catch a cold.”
Learning to interact with female fans was probably the biggest gain for Zhang Jue when he was a trainee as an idol.
The manager once said, no matter what you think in your heart, when facing fans, you must be warm and gentle. Fans are like parents, customers, and gods. An idol’s duty is to present performances, provide entertainment, don’t be arrogant in front of them, don’t develop emotional relationships with them, and don’t try to manipulate fans to participate in online battles or attack someone. Respect and appreciate them. Got it?
Without fans’ support, what are you as an idol?
Perhaps because the manager’s values were too right, the company where Zhang Jue used to stay had never successfully debuted anyone.
Similarly, one of the main incomes of figure skaters is participating in commercial performances. The commercial performance market is sustained by figure skating enthusiasts. In theory, there is not much difference between figure skating fans and entertainment industry fans. One pursues idols, and the other pursues figure skaters.
Zhang Jue’s attitude towards figure skating fans was similar to his attitude towards fans in his previous life—respectful, polite, and grateful. As Shen Liu translated, he almost thought that today little Jue had been swapped.
Why don’t they need to change any words and can just translate them directly?


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