Figure Skating: I’m More Suited for the Olympics – Chapter 38 Contingency

As Hayato Teraoka finishes his routine and steps off the ice, Zhang Jue is about to take the ice. In that fleeting moment as they pass each other, Hayato Teraoka catches a strong medicinal scent in the air.

Similar to a sports drink laced with painkillers, this medicinal scent carries the essence of competitive sports.

Turning around, Hayato Teraoka, who was initially filled with frustration and unwillingness, experiences an inexplicable sensation in his heart.

Engaging in sports is beneficial for physical fitness, but competitive sports inevitably take a toll on the body. Just emerging from a pool of young athletes in one’s own country to secure a spot on the international stage is already a fierce competition for many.

Many people can tell just by looking at Zhang Jue’s slender legs that his strength was not formidable. A too-thin physique implies a weaker ability to resist injuries. How much effort has he put in to reach this competition?

In the adult category in Japan, there aren’t many outstanding figures. While not as barren as the men’s singles in China, the highest-ranking skater in the adult category is only 23rd globally. Hayato Teraoka also feels immense pressure and has been challenging quad jumps since early in his development.

Hayato Teraoka has already accepted the fact that his professional career may not be long, and even in the remaining years of his life, injuries may linger.

But the pressure on Zhang Jue is even more terrifying. From the beginning of the competition until now, there are many people around Zhang Jue. He has three coaches alone—the head coach, the assistant coach, and the provincial team head coach. The national team head coach and other adult category athletes occasionally come to watch him. Even reporters from the central TV station come for interviews.

For a single skater in this particular event, who else would the public pay attention to if not him?

If an ordinary young athlete faced all of this, their mindset might crumble. Yet, the little boy is very thin and short. From behind, the delicate butterfly bones are faintly visible in the costume, as if they might be blown away by the wind. However, his shoulders are straight, displaying a determined appearance.

His coach pushes him towards the center of the ice, and the small body quickly glides forward. The young arms open, lift, and a calm and confident smile appears on his face.

Hayato Teraoka’s scores are out. Thanks to the performance score slightly higher than Ilya’s, his free skate score is 157.86, adding to the short program’s 81.05, giving him a total score of 238.91.

The Japanese boy bows to the applauding fans on the ice, silently saying in his heart: “Tama-san, Ganba-de!”

On the ice, Zhang Jue vigorously pounds the areas with the most flesh on his body—his thighs and buttocks—hoping that the muscles in these two areas will provide strength during the competition.

Zhang Junbao, focused, watched him.

Song Cheng mutters quietly: “Nothing else matters, just finish safely. There’s still the Grand Prix Final and the World Junior Championships to come.”

Shen Liu agrees: “Don’t worry. Zhang Jue and Senior Junbao revised the choreography this morning. The jump configuration now falls within his capabilities.”

The eyes of tens of thousands of spectators are fixed on this child. When the harp sounds, the Nutcracker transforms into an elegant and beautiful little prince, embarking on a fairytale journey.

Judging from the style displayed in the competition, the Nutcracker is too childlike, lacking the excitement of Carmen’s reversal or the bravery and determination of Ashitaka. However, the adorable spirit, the innocence, and the untouched childlike quality are traits that only Zhang Jue, in his current appearance, can bring out.

Leaving other aspects aside, just seeing this child on the ice would involuntarily bring a tender smile to the faces of the audience—a smile akin to that of an affectionate aunt or uncle. It shows just how endearing Zhang litlle Jue was.

With a forward jump, the young skater effortlessly lands a 3A, the most challenging jump in this competition for him. Seeing Zhang Jue successfully execute the jump, countless people breathe a sigh of relief.

The expression on Sergei in the audience changed: “He’s using the edge technique.”

For the 3A jump, there are three techniques, and the edge technique is the most difficult and highly rated. Athletes using this technique don’t produce any ice spray from the side of the blade during takeoff, creating a very light and graceful appearance.

As the saying goes, those in the know can discern the subtleties. Sergei deeply understands that the ability to use this technique means the athlete doesn’t initiate any rotation before takeoff. The entire 3A completes a solid three and a half revolutions from takeoff to landing, without any shortcuts.

Even Ilya couldn’t master this technique. This kid might not excel in other areas, but when it comes to the Axel jump, he’s genuinely strong!

The second jump, 3F, was another light and graceful leap.

Although Zhang Jue’s 3F jump technique is quite peculiar, making many professional figure skaters feel it’s odd, one must admire him for daring to bring this jump that requires a 3.2-revolution spin to the competition. He even managed to execute it twice in the Grand Prix Final, earning three words of admiration.

Talent indeed.

Vasily understands even more. He knows that with the development of figure skating as a competitive sport, the difficulty will only increase over time. The generation of men’s singles represented by Ilya, Hayato Teraoka, and Zhang Jue will probably have to compete with quad jumps. With Zhang Jue’s magical 3F jump, spinning 0.2 revolutions more than others, it would be a lifetime achievement to master 3F, let alone dream of a 4F.

After all, completing four revolutions is already quite challenging. To attempt 4.2 revolutions might require athletes to risk their lives!

Successfully landing two consecutive jumps, which are the most prone to mistakes, makes the coaching team breathe a sigh of relief. However, in the third jump, 3Lo, Zhang Jue encounters a noticeable issue during takeoff.

His body’s center is clearly off-kilter.

A jump with a proper center is a good jump, while jumps with an improper center usually end in a fall. When Zhang Jue lands, there’s a subtle sway in his body, but he manages to stay on his feet by relying on the strength of his hip and thigh muscles.

According to convention, a successful jump should leave a beautiful semicircular arc on the ice after landing, referred to as a glide-out, which is one of the elements affecting the jump’s Grade of Execution (GOE).

The real-time scoring results appear on the big screen.


BV (Base Value): 5.1

GOE (Execution Score): +0.8

CURRENT (Current Skater Technical Score): 23.06 [CHN]

LEADER (Current Leading Technical Score): 83.5 [RUS]

Shen Liu clenches his fists, realizing something: Zhang Jue’s jumps were still affected by his injury!

However, except for those familiar with him, almost no one can see how Zhang Jue is influenced by the waist injury. His performance is sweet and lyrical, and watching his dance and demeanor, one can feel the gentle fall of snow on Christmas night and the warmth of the fireplace.

When those soft and tender arms swing, they carry the child’s innocent charm and lively agility, like the Nutcracker turning into a real person running in front of everyone.

The child’s performance was rich, captivating everyone’s gaze. The difficulty of figure skating skills and the gracefulness of the dancer were simultaneously showcased in him.

When the little prince enters the squat spin, lifting one leg for an upright rotation, Ilya’s eyes light up.

“It’s a Y-spin. This rotation… suits him so well.”

Zhang Jue’s body proportions are excellent, especially his long legs. Thus, when performing a Y-spin that emphasizes leg visibility, he looks like a small candelabrum spinning and emitting light on a music box.

Forget about the unstable center, with his good flexibility, Zhang Jue could present numerous aesthetically pleasing rotation poses. He can do rotations that men usually do and even high-flexibility rotations that women typically perform. The fusion of masculine strength and feminine grace is perfect in him, balancing the rigidity and softness.

With so many figure skating enthusiasts, since discovering that Zhang Jue’s Y-spin beauty is on par with Bellman’s, Shen Liu has determinedly added the Y-spin to Zhang Jue’s list of frequently used rotations.

As the young boy glided across the ice with a raised dagger, applause echoed through the arena.

Even though he didn’t attempt the quadruple jumps, and his jumps didn’t reach the height and distance of Ilya’s, and “The Nutcracker” had been performed by many figure skaters, those present could affirm that, from today onwards, the most classic rendition of “The Nutcracker” in the figure skating arena belonged to Zhang Jue!

The child’s expressive skills were exceptional! To debut with a program that could serve as a representative masterpiece showcased an unparalleled talent.

Until the program entered its second half, Zhang Jue’s opponents began to hold their breath.

All four jumps Zhang Jue executed earlier were single jumps, meaning this little powerhouse deferred the more scoring consecutive jumps to the latter part, aiming for the 1.1 multiplier on the base score.

Hayato Teraoka felt a slight worry, concerned about whether Zhang Jue who was still injuries, could handle this choreography.

Ilya’s pressure increased, his weakness was stamina. Ilya typically placed the high-difficulty jumps and combinations at the beginning of the program. However, if the opponent could continually benefit from stamina advantages while being at a disadvantage in stamina, one day, he would pay the price. Ilya vowed to improve his endurance once back in Russia!

However, from jumps to performance, Zhang Jue, who had been stable, finally encountered a significant issue in the latter part of the program.

His first consecutive jump was 3lz+3T.

But during the landing of the 3lz, Zhang Jue stumbled, and performed a somersault in place, narrowly avoiding a real fall.

Several people at the sidelines exclaimed.

“Oh my God!”


Zhang Junbao was anxiously shaking his leg, Shen Liu crumpled the paper box in his hands, Song Cheng grabbed his chest, and Jin Zixuan, sitting in the audience, was so startled that Fan Zhaoying had to pull her back down.

Even at this crucial moment, where Zhang Jue would likely face severe deductions from the judges, he remained unfazed. Using the somersault as an opportunity, he smoothly turned it into 3lz+1lo+2S, making it look as if he hadn’t made a mistake.

Many television commentators, who had received the skaters’ reported program jump arrangements in advance, were surprised by this change.

The Italian commentator from ITA TV praised in Italian: “Extraordinary adaptability.”

His co-commentator nodded in agreement: “Yes, he definitely has the potential to be a world champion.”

Jin Zixuan returned to her seat, watching Zhang Jue continue his performance and slowly uttered two words.


He wasn’t wrong to lose to Zhang Jue in the trial competition. Jin Zixuan admitted to himself that if he were on the ice encountering such an accident, she wouldn’t have been able to make such a quick remedy in those split seconds, and not falling on the ice would have been considered lucky!

After this set of three consecutive jumps, Zhang Jue quickly executed 3lz+3T, 3S+3T (raising hand), and finally entered the bow spin with an illusion of difficulty.

Surprisingly, as one of the spins Zhang Jue had practiced the longest recently, his bow spin’s axis gradually became more stable. When he completed eight rotations, he lifted the floating foot’s blade with one hand.

It turned out to be a single-handed Biellmann!

As the piano music descended at the end of the spin, Zhang Jue spun around, threw a kiss to the audience, raised both hands, and struck a cute ending pose. Countless uncles and aunties rushed to the front row of the audience, eagerly throwing plush toys at him.

The green crocodile fell onto the ice with a rustle. Zhang Jue picked one up, kissed it, and cheerfully waved to the audience.

Once off the ice, facing the expressions of Shen Liu and Zhang Junbao that seemed off, Zhang Jue realized he might have gone a bit overboard.

Shen Liu grinned: “Zhang Jue, you’re amazing. Even with a plaster on your waist, you dare to perform the single-handed Biellmann.”

Zhang Junbao directly snatched Zhang Jue’s crocodile, hugged the child’s shoulder, subtly borrowing strength, and led him to sit at the kiss & cry. Zhang Junbao sat on Zhang Jue’s left, while Shen Liu sat on his right.

Zhang Jue, sandwiched between the two coaches, obediently placed his hands on his knees, calm as a chicken.

Watching the big screen, Shen Liu whispered: “Prepare yourself mentally, Zhang Jue. Ilya Safoshenko free skate has two 3A jumps, Hayato Teraoka attempted the quadruple jump, and his footwork and spins received level four scores. With your current difficulty configuration, you can’t beat them.”

Zhang Jue was momentarily stunned, and Zhang Junbao lowered his head, looking at his nephew’s somewhat dazed expression. The expression eased, and he tightened his arm.

“It’s okay. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to compete with them in the future. Heal your injuries, and you’ll have a chance to beat them later.”

At this moment, Zhang Jue’s scores appeared on the big screen.

Technical Score: 82.69

Artistic Score: 73.18

Total Score: 155.87

On the overall ranking, Ilya was in the lead with 241.97, followed by Hayato Teraoka at 238.91 in second place. Zhang Jue ranked third with 237.14.

Seeing this ranking, the child’s excitement completely faded. He tried not to show a disappointed expression, waiting until he walked out of the camera’s range before diving into his uncle’s embrace.

Zhang Jue pulled his sleeve, muttering indistinctly: “I thought I could at least get a silver medal. The judges are unfair, giving me such a low artistic score… I must win against them at the World Junior Championships.”

Despite his efforts to perform on the ice while enduring injuries, he could only stand on the podium as the last, and even Zhang Jue, with his large heart, couldn’t find joy at the moment.

After Zhang Jue vented for a while, Zhang Junbao held the child’s petite and soft body, gently patting his back.

Seeing the heartwarming scene of the uncle and nephew embracing, Shen Liu smiled. He took off his coat and draped it over Zhang Jue, comforting him kindly.

“All right, you’ve at least won the first medal for Chinese men’s singles in the Grand Prix Final. This is a joyous occasion. Coach Song is ecstatic; he usually takes good care of you. So, after receiving the medal, remember to take a photo with Coach Song and hang the medal around his neck to make him even happier.”

Zhang Jue, at heart, was an adult. Although caught off guard by the harsh scoring this time, coupled with venting briefly by his uncle’s side, he lifted his head upon hearing this and nodded helplessly.

“I know, I’ll go receive the medal joyfully. I’ll make Coach Song and Coach Sun happy.”

Shen Liu laughed and tousled the crocodile’s head: “That’s right. Perform well, little one. Your uncle will make chicken soup with mashed potatoes for you tonight. Now, let’s go find the team doctor and let him check your waist.”


Support translation:

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