Figure Skating: I’m More Suited for the Olympics – Chapter 28 Perseverance

At the end of the short program, Zhang Jue ranked seventh.

Seeing this result, the coaching staff didn’t know whether they should be happy or sad.

They had already mentally prepared themselves for Zhang Jue’s ranking to drop outside the top ten. Now, being in seventh place was already the best outcome, but it also indicates that there aren’t many formidable contenders in the young men’s singles in the Chinese part of the competition.

This generation of young skaters was not performing well.

Shen Liu can see that, given Zhang Jue’s two serious mistakes during the competition, if the judges were more severe and strict, even receiving scores in the range of 40 to 50 points wouldn’t be surprising. However, this time, Zhang Jue achieved an unexpectedly high-performance score, pulling his final score above 60.

This was also the highest performance score Zhang Jue has ever received, clearly indicating that, despite the judges’ bias, they can only subtly influence the details. If the skater’s own skills are strong enough, the judges cannot openly suppress him.

The Asian skater who previously broke through this limitation in the junior division was Hayato Teraoka. As an Asian skater, he could compete head-to-head with Russian skater Safoshenko, which was considered incredible by many.

Zhang Jue has now broken through the “performance score discrimination” in Chinese men’s singles. His expressiveness was too strong, and no one can honestly say his performance was not good.

When looking at the scores, Sun Qian was full of regret. If Zhang Jue hadn’t made mistakes in his jumps and spins, he might have scored above 80 in the short program with this level of performance. But the old coach just thought about it in his heart, he could see that Zhang Jue did not start learning figure skating from a young age and did not consider becoming a figure skater as his life goal. Coupled with his extraordinary talent, from the trial to the U.S. competition, he has already been surpassing his opponents. But he has never had the consciousness of striving for victory like this before.

Athletes with this kind of character ware not common, but as long as their physical condition keeps up, each one is a good seedling for challenging the world’s peak, such as someone from the table tennis team or the diving team.

Unfortunately, Zhang Jue’s illness came at the wrong time this time. Otherwise, he would definitely be able to get two gold medals into the finals. Sun Qian knew that Jin Zixuan had a 3A jump, but the mental qualities of these two kids are worlds apart.

Not to mention Sun Qian’s complaints, but even if Zhang Jue’s physical strength was temporarily not as good as Jin Zixuan, with his expressiveness and always being the first to perform, as long as Zhang Jue takes the stage first and slays the competition, Jin Zixuan was likely to feel enormous pressure.

Unfortunately, Zhang Jue’s short program has faltered. The scores for the fourth, fifth, and sixth places ware only 1 to 2 points higher than Zhang Jue’s, but the top three have opened up a gap of more than 7 points.

Jin Zixuan, 70.5 points;

Juventus Bratov, 69.21 points;

Shi Mosheng, 69.15 points.

In figure skating competitions, a gap of more than 3 points was significant, as a basic score for a double jump was only 3.3.

In the men’s singles free skate in the junior division, skaters perform four single jumps, two double jumps, and one triple jump. Unless there is a significant technical advantage, making a comeback against opponents under such a huge disadvantage was a massive challenge.

Zhang Jue took off his headgear, and with disheveled black hair falling on his cheeks, he wipes his sweat with a few tissues in a casual manner. He looks at the scoreboard and confidently says something.

“This point difference can be made up.”

He was running a low fever, facing adversity, yet he looked very confident, as if a substantial point difference was nothing that can affect him.

As a youth athlete undefeated so far, it’s normal to lose control of emotions when faced with the first setback. The coaching team has prepared to comfort him, but the kid’s state is very stable.

After stepping off the ice, Zhang Jue immediately detaches from the madness of the Black Swan. Although the youth has no expression on his face, completely devoid of the usual obedient and sweet smile, the calm and steady aura makes it seem as if there’s a firmness and toughness.

Zhang Jue was in seventh place, which means he will be placed in the second-to-last group. But after the draw, Zhang Jue unexpectedly got the second starting position.

Zhang Jue, having such a good starting position for the first time in two lifetimes, runs to his old uncle holding the draw, and his voice trembles slightly as he speaks.

“Uncle, I’m the second to perform!”

Zhang Junbao widens his eyes, lifts his big nephew and turns around in place. If someone unfamiliar sees their joyful expressions, they might think Zhang Jue has won another championship.

Probably because people ware in high spirits due to the good news, combined with sufficient exercise during the short program, when evening comes, Zhang Jue’s body temperature finally returned to normal along with his appetite.

Not daring to expose him to a fan when his illness was just recovering, Uncle Zhang used a folding fan to fan him while Shen Liu earnestly analyzes the competition situation for Zhang Jue.

“Among those who have completed two rounds of competitions, the sixth-place athlete has only earned 20 points, and the fifth-place has 22 points.”

According to the rules of the Grand Prix, gold medals accumulate 15 points, silver medals 13 points, bronze medals 11 points, fourth place 9 points, fifth place 7 points, sixth place 5 points, seventh place 4 points, and there are no points beyond that.

Zhang Jue how was busy eating, could only respond with a panda-like sound: “Hmm!”

Shen Liu says: “You already have a base of 15 points. As long as you skate into the top four this time, you can get 9 more points, making a total of 24. At that time, you can still rank fifth on the points leaderboard.”

“In the final, there are six spots available. It’s enough to be in the top six of the rankings.

Zhang Junbao shook his head: “No, Teruoka Hayato hasn’t competed in the Japan stage yet, but he’s sure to win. He’ll take one spot. Zhang Jue must get on the podium to ensure that his points are enough to enter the finals.”

Zhang Jue picked up the bowl and drank all the soup.

Coach Song reminded the young athlete: “Zhang Jue, take it easy. This season, you not only need to focus on the first half of the Grand Prix but also on the Four Continents Championship and the World Junior Championship is also waiting for you. If you miss this one, there’s another one. Lower the difficulty of consecutive jumps appropriately when you’re on the ice.”

Zhang Jue put the bowl down and replied decisively: “No need to lower.”

Coach Song said: “Your body hasn’t fully recovered. It’s not worth it if you get injured.”

Zhang Jue was very stubborn: “If I don’t try, how would I know? I didn’t back down when I had a fever. Now that I’m recovered I will just do it!”

He was a capable guy, not only good at eating dry food, but also had no problem winning against opponents!

Zhang Junbao gave a thumbs up: “Good, that’s what a real man should say!”

Coach Song: “…”

When he coached Zhang Junbao, he was already troublesome enough. Unexpectedly, this brat’s nephew who had a face like a fairy had the same temperament as Zhang Junbao.

Indeed, birds of a feather flock together. Both of them were not easy for coaches to deal with. Now they were causing trouble together.

Seeing that the coaches wanted to persuade him again, Zhang Jue stood up and looked at them seriously.

He said word by word: “Coach, I want to go to the finals.”

Facing the determined expression of the athlete, the three coaches, who were once athletes themselves, couldn’t help feeling a deep sense of helplessness.

The next day, the competition officially began. Zhang Jue, as the second-to-last group member, entered the warm-up room. Under the coaches’ gaze, he laid out a yoga mat and started basic stretching.

As the last skater in the competition, Shi Mosheng would start warming up after the second-to-last group began the competition. To avoid excessive warm-up and energy consumption, he sat in a corner, observing the warm-up movements of his opponents.

Zhang Jue did a split, placed a foam brick under his front leg, leaned back, and reached for his calf with one hand. This movement not only tested the flexibility of the leg ligaments but also the waist.

After stretching his body, Zhang Jue stood up to move his joints. Then, he took off his jacket and started off-ice jumps.

The young man took a few steps and confidently jumped forward.

Shi Mosheng wondered if he was practicing a 2A.

But Zhang Jue dispelled his thoughts.

This was an off-ice 3A.

Before skaters officially start jumping on the ice, they must first practice off-ice jumps. However, success in off-ice jumps doesn’t guarantee success on ice. Nevertheless, those who can complete a 3A on land are already few in the country.

While the on-ice 3A appears elegant and graceful, the off-ice 3A was extraordinary in its momentum.

No matter how slim Zhang Jue’s current figure was, when he soared half a meter high and spun 1260 degrees in the air, his joints bore a force equivalent to 4 to 5 times his body weight. As his feet heavily hit the ground, making a loud sound, it weighed heavily on everyone’s hearts.

Jin Zixuan paused in arranging his sports bag, watching Zhang Jue’s movements with wide eyes.

Before the start of the China stage, the success rate of the 3A in training had already reached 60%. In theory, this jump could be included in the official program. However, after the failure in the test competition, to ensure stability, he chose to give up the 3A in the China stage, securing first place in the short program through a clean performance.

After less than a month since the end of the competition in the United States, the talented young man who was highly anticipated before the competition but failed due to illness had actually mastered the 3A.

At 5:30 in the afternoon, Zhang Jue took off the blade guards, handed them to coach Shen Liu, and stepped onto the ice.

He stood with his back to the barrier, facing the white arena. Coach Song spoke with seriousness: “Be careful.”

Zhang Jue replied: “Okay.”

Zhang Junbao put his hand on his shoulder and pushed him forward.

“Zhang Jue, go!”

The familiar push transmitted warmth to Zhang Jue. He slid forward with this force.

The bilingual broadcast echoed in the arena.

“Representative of China.”

“The next skater to appear is Chinese athlete Zhang Jue.”

Sun Qian sat in the front row of the audience, with an open leather notebook on his lap and a pen in his hand. Recognized by senior figure skating fans, he was the head coach of the national team who had sat in the kiss & cry with the national team’s elder brother and sister.

Figure skating enthusiasts secretly observed Sun Qian’s focused expression, marveling that the coach attached such importance to the skater who fell in the short program.

In a distant city in H, Madam Mia switched on the TV.

As a discerning viewer, ordinary performances couldn’t catch madam Mia’s eyes. She hadn’t felt this excited about a performance for a long time.

When she choreographed for Zhang Jue, it was out of her affection and care for Zhang Junbao and Shen Liu, her former students. She also recognized Zhang Jue’s potential. However, she didn’t think the current Zhang Jue was an outstanding dancer. Even though she had trained him rigorously, Zhang Jue, in her eyes, was just qualified and wouldn’t embarrass himself when put on stage.

However, after watching “Black Swan,” madam Mia was surprised to find that Zhang Jue not only possessed artistic flair but also had matured performance abilities. When he exerted himself seriously, he became the master of the stage.

Mia had a premonition that Zhang Jue’s interpretation of “The Nutcracker” would surpass the practice version by more than one level.

Perhaps his free skate could bring her another surprise.

In the next moment, the music started, and the young man on the ice opened his bright eyes.

After a few ballet-style dance moves accompanied by smooth piano music, Zhang Jue initiated approximately 7 seconds of gliding. Then, he swung his arms forcefully forward, lifting his entire body into the air.

The silver ice blade glided through the air, its edge reflecting dazzling white light until the blade landed on the silver-white battleground, emitting a crisp sound.

After landing on the ice, the blade smoothly traced a half-circle, and a layer of fine ice mist blossomed on both sides of Zhang Jue’s ice skates. With outstretched arms and palms facing upward, he moved with the rising melody.

From the beginning of this competition, Zhang Jue knew that even with a beautiful opening, the situation ahead would still be challenging.

Because his condition was really poor, with lingering muscle soreness and overall fatigue. In this state, if he could still captivate the entire audience, that would be quite extraordinary. However, since he stepped onto the ice, his only remaining task was to complete this competition!

The ice blade struck the ice again, and the young man on the rink once again pointed his right foot at the ice, his left foot assuming an inner edge takeoff. This was a 3F. When Zhang Jue landed, his body tilted, and with a thud, he fell on the ice. A sigh of regret echoed from the audience, but he quickly got up and continued the performance.

Actually, this fall was quite painful. Zhang Jue’s chin was bumped, and tears of pain were almost coming out. However, he immediately got up to continue, maintaining a facial expression that still matched the joyful and innocent tone of the music.

Zhang Jue was not defeated by the mistakes, he even adjusted his state quickly and completed a Rippon-style 3lz in the next jump.

Even in such circumstances, Zhang Jue never resorted to premature rotation. Each jump was solidly executed, with sufficient rotation and smooth transitions before and after the jumps.

Indeed, this was not a perfect program. Among the seven jumps, Zhang Jue made two mistakes. However, his unwavering resilience and courage added a passionate vitality to the performance, giving it a compelling power.

As the competition ended, the arena erupted with astonishing applause. The blonde lady who had come all the way from the United States tossed a small crocodile to Zhang Jue, foreign journalists whistled, and the atmosphere became lively.

Zhang Jue stood at the center of the ice, arms open, gracefully bowing to the surroundings, exuding a happy and confident demeanor, incredibly dazzling.

At this moment, he was the sole protagonist of the competition.

Jin Zixuan watched the young man on the ice, and for some unknown reason, a feeling of inexplicable admiration and awe welled up in his heart.

The coach walked up behind him.

“See that? He has something you lack the most.”

Jin Zixuan responded.

“I know.”

Regardless of the final results, at this moment, Zhang Jue, as an athlete, won the hearts of all the ice-skating fans present. He was a good athlete.

Zhang Junba breathed a sigh of relief. Even though Zhang Jue was still on the ice picking up plush toys, and the scores had not yet been announced, he spoke with a reassuring tone to Shen Liu and Song Cheng: “The performance was good. When we get back, cook him some braised pig’s trotters.”

Shen Liu agreed wholeheartedly, and Song Cheng coughed, reminding him to “cook less,” or else after Zhang Jue finished eating, he would have to go on a diet again.

On this day, Juventus Bratov secured the gold medal with stable performances. Zhang Jue, who lagged behind in the short program, staged a remarkable comeback in the free skate, rushing to third place and securing the bronze medal, while Jin Zixuan claimed the silver.

When they stood on the podium, Jin Zixuan heard Juventus Bratov express admiration to Zhang Jue in a respectful tone: “You are a great figure skater. I like your technique and look forward to meeting you in the Grand Prix Final.”

Zhang Jue blinked, revealing a polite and obedient smile.


Zhang Jue: This big brother’s English accent is so heavy, I can’t understand at all. However, he seems to be expressing something friendly. Coach Shen said that in such situations, just saying thank you is probably fine.

Seeing the cute smile of the young man, Juventus Bratov also flashed a bright and sunny smile, giving Zhang Jue a friendly hug.

Sun Qian, sitting in the spectator seats, remained silent for a long time before slowly closing his notebook.

He thought, it’s time to recruit new members for the national team.


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