Figure Skating: I’m More Suited for the Olympics – Chapter 26 Broken

For many athletes that participated in their first international competition, it was highly likely that they would place first in their own country’s Grand Prix event. For Chinese figure skaters, having an A-level competition as their first battle on home turf has only become a recent occurrence.

Entering the venue with Shi Mosheng, Chen Zhu sighed: “You guys live in a good time.”

In her era, China hadn’t qualified to host Grand Prix events. Sometimes, even if athletes were mistreated abroad, they had no recourse for complaints.

Chen Zhu herself fared well, her strong skills spared her from injustices during Grand Prix events. However, in the 1996 World Championships, despite delivering the best performances of her career, she lost to the judges’ biased calculations and ended up in second place.

The gold medalist of that World Championship was a North American singles skater.

This was the predicament Chinese figure skaters faced at that time—even the gold medal of the top-ranked skater could be unjustly taken away due to nationality disadvantages.

Nowadays, at least on their home turf, domestic athletes can receive fair scores.

After all, China has very few promising figure skating talents.

The most popular pair skating now consists of one team each in the adult and junior categories, representing the only figure skating event in China with Olympic gold medalists. However, the gold medal-winning pair from the Vancouver Olympics was getting older. The male partner was already 31 years old and the female partner was 27. Both were also plagued with injuries. They were waiting for Huang Ying and Guan Lin to move up, after which they planned to retire and get married.

In women’s singles, after Chen Zhu retired, no one has entered the world’s top ten. Still, they fare better than men’s singles. Chen Zhu won numerous honors during her active years, including Olympic gold medals, and the subsequent leading ladies in singles also made appearances on the podium at Grand Prix events.

Men’s singles were more unfortunate, they took a direct hiatus this year. The hopes of their entire community ware now pinned on a 13-year-old kid.

As for ice dance, most domestic fans don’t even know the surnames of the domestic ice dance leaders.

In this situation where figure skating was supported by only a few pillars in each of the four categories, each one was considered a hope for the community, a cherished treasure in the hands of the leaders.

Another advantage of domestic competitions wa s that there’s no need to deal with jet lag.

Zhang Jue once said during an interview after making history and winning gold at the U.S. Grand Prix that dealing with jet lag was very challenging and significantly affected athletes’ conditions.

Thinking about it, Chen Zhu felt that Zhang Jue had the best luck in China this year.

Because he emerged during the hiatus, the leaders were willing to put in effort to operate and arrange for him to participate in the second competition with fewer opponents. With all the opponents collapsing, he successfully won, creating history in Chinese men’s singles.

The fifth station was also a domestic competition. The most powerful participating athlete, other than Zhang Jue himself was Juventus Bratov from the Czech Republic. However, Juventus’s strength is not strong, it’s just that he turned 18, making him more mature in all aspects. In the first competition, Safoshenko and Hayato Teraoka had an intense competition, and all the other athletes were defeated. Juventus won a bronze medal through a stable performance.

Since Zhang Jue can beat Angus Joe, there’s no reason for him to lose to Juventus. Once Zhang Jue wins two gold medals in Grand Prix events, he can, like Safoshenko, who has already won gold in the first and third series, steadily advance to the Grand Prix Final with the highest 30 points, creating another new history.

At this moment, Zhang Jue was just one step away from creating a new history.

Chen Zhu didn’t envy it because to seize the opportunity to create a miracle, one must first have the strength to create a miracle and a stable heart, both of which are indispensable.

If the strength is strong but the mentality isn’t right, it will be like Jin Zixuan. But despite having a technical advantage, he lost precious competition spots due to a poor mentality.

In competitive sports, winning is the only way, and if you can’t even hold up in the trials, you can’t blame Zhang Jue for seizing the opportunity and rising.

The audience attendance in the junior category was not high, so the venue management was not strict. When entering the venue, some athletes ware already familiarizing themselves with the venue, and there were also some local figure skating fans sitting in the front row, filming with cameras.

Mosheng unintentionally raised his head and happened to see a familiar figure.

With wheat-colored skin and a handsome face, it was none other than Fan Zhaoying, the former leading figure in the junior category who retired due to injury.

Perhaps due to reduced activity during his recovery, Fan Zhaoying’s shoulders and back appeared broader. He wore a warm woolen coat, attentively watching the ice rink.

Following his gaze, Mosheng saw Zhang Jue on the ice performing cross-overs and crab steps, using these movements to relax and stretch his body.

Even such basic movements for professional athletes were executed gracefully and captivatingly by Zhang Jue.

The young man moved across the snowy-white rink like a gentle breeze, ethereal and fairy-like. Even in simple body stretches, the sight was pleasing.

After a while, Zhang Jue began attempting jumps.

A sequence of 3lo+3lo+3lo triple jumps appeared. Except for the first jump that aided in gliding, the following two jumps were executed with impressive height, making one suspect that he had springs under his feet.

The difficulty of incorporating a 3lo jump into a combination jump is self-evident. Many top male singles skaters worldwide mainly include a 3T jump in combination jumps during performances. It’s because performing a 3lo requires high control over the axis, coordination, and waist strength. The error rate is high, and unless stability can be ensured, choosing 3T was more cost-effective.

After two months, Zhang Jue’s ability to execute consecutive jumps seemed to have strengthened.

Mosheng silently compared his own skills with Zhang Jue’s and regretfully discovered that his consecutive jumps were absolutely not as light and relaxed as Zhang Jue’s.

He thought that this might be related to the difference in their physical conditions. Zhang Jue’s frame was relatively delicate among males, and his axis during jumps was finer. Therefore, his rotation speed in the air was faster, making his jumps appear more nimble.

But the length and thickness of bones were innate factors. Figures like Zhang Jue were born for figure skating.

Fan Zhaoying also silently pondered the information about Zhang Jue.

The ace male singles skater from the H Province team was 154 cm tall, with a weight of only 42 kg. At first glance, it seemed fine, but the weight of an athlete’s 42 kg is entirely different from that of a normal person. Under the same weight, the volume of fat is five times that of muscles.

The normal body fat percentage for males is considered healthy at 14% to 18%. Athletes, especially figure skaters, must have a body fat percentage below 10%.

Zhang Jue’s body fat was only 7%, making him look thin, with only a hint of baby fat remaining on his face. This indicated that 90% of his 42 kg weight was composed of bones, organs, and muscles, with very little fat.

This is why Zhang Jue was always thinking about finding something to eat. When the body fat of a person drops to a certain level, the body automatically prompts them to eat for replenishment.

People like Zhang Jue were considered good. On the women’s singles side, to maintain low body weight for more nimble jumps, each of them also presses body fat to a very low level. However, if a woman’s body fat drops below 15%, she may even stop menstruating.

Fan Zhaoying also noticed Moshen, he then waved, wearing a polite smile: “Long time no see.”

Mosheng walked over: “Long time no see. Why did you come to Shanghai?”

Fan Zhaoying replied casually: “Just went out for a walk during the National Day holiday. Didn’t know where to go, so ended up here.”

Mosheng thought: “If you can’t let go, why retire in the first place? Clearly, with proper treatment Fan Zhaoying could have continued skating.”

However, this former formidable rival had already retired, so Mosheng turned his attention to the current strongest opponent.

“I think Zhang Jue is a tougher opponent than you.” he remarked.

Fan Zhaoying nodded iin agreement: “Indeed, his technical advantages are significant. Not only are the jumping difficulties on paper high, but the pre-jump assisted glide time is less than 7 seconds. Moreover, his footwork connections are full, and his skating is very powerful. Even if I hadn’t been injured, I wouldn’t be his match.”

According to the rules, athletes must have footwork as connecting movements before and after jumps. Otherwise, if the entire program consists only of assisted glides, jumps, and spins, it would lack content.

Even so, many less skilled skaters need about ten seconds of assisted gliding before jumps, with basic three-turns as the simplest connections. Zhang Jue, on the other hand, could perform a downward boe step with his front foot and immediately jump into a 3S with his back foot, showcasing his ease in executing a 3S jump.

Before retiring, Fan Zhaoying had reached the level of practicing 3A jumps. However, due to inadequate skating, he always struggled to complete this jump.

If it were Zhang Jue… Fan Zhaoying thought of this just as he saw Zhang Jue starting another assisted glide. This time, Zhang Jue’s skating speed was very fast, and he glided for almost ten seconds before lifting his leg forward.

An astonishingly distant jump—just by visual estimation, Fan Zhaoying knew that Zhang Jue’s jump definitely exceeded 3 meters.

It was a 3A!

Fan Zhaoying and Mosheng, without any coordination, closely followed Zhang Jue’s performance. They noticed that his jump had a perfectly centered axis, and he completed three and a half revolutions in the air.

By experience, such a beautifully executed jump should have no issues upon landing. It should have been a successful jump.

Zhang Jue did land successfully. However, two seconds later, his legs suddenly gave way, and he sat on the ice.

Mosheng sighed: “What a pity.”

Fan Zhaoying, however, frowned, feeling that something was amiss. Logically, Zhang Jue had already stabilized himself successfully, so how could he fall flat on the ice?

Was he feeling unwell?

Zhang Junbao and Shen Liu, more than anyone else, were concerned about Zhang Jue’s health. To be frank, every time Zhang Jue fell, the two coaches were more nervous than Zhang Jue himself.

Both of them had retired due to injuries!

Seeing the kid get up on his own, pat his butt, and continue skating, Shen Liu secretly breathed a sigh of relief, dismissing the idea of going onto the ice with his skates.

After skating for a while, Zhang Jue approached the rink’s edge, extending his hand: “I want water.”

“Just wait a moment!”

Zhang Junbao quickly opened a bottle of sports drink and handed it over. Zhang Jue tilted his head back and took a couple of sips, pulling at his collar.

“Maybe I fell too many times, but my muscles feel sore all over.”

Approaching the competition, if an athlete felt uncomfortable, it was better not to practice.

Zhang Junbao took the team back for dinner and found Zhang Jue, who was dragging behind looking dispirited. Feeling somewhat strange, Zhang Junbao waited until Zhang Jue sat in a chair and began picking at chicken legs and pouring soup-soaked rice before exchanging a glance with Shen Liu. They both sensed that something was wrong.

This was Zhang Jue, the one who could eat faster than the track and field team could run, and the one whose eating demeanor resembled that of a little tiger!

Zhang Junbao immediately got up to call the team doctor. Shen Liu touched Zhang Jue’s forehead, and his expression changed immediately.

He murmured: “This is bad.”

On the day before the start of the competition in the China stage, Zhang Jue, who had always been healthy and could run out to play in the snow wearing only a cotton jacket in the winter in Northeast China, suddenly developed a high fever.

Edited by:



Support translation:

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is kofi3-3.png

Leave a Reply