Figure Skating: I’m More Suited for the Olympics – Chapter 42 Sugar

Generally, in the latter part of the season, which is from January to March, there are more A-level competitions.

The European Championships, Four Continents Championships, season-ending World Championships, and World Junior Championships… including events like the Asian Championships, Asian Winter Games, Winter Universiade, and so on, are all held in the latter part of the season.

However, the slots for participating in these competitions are limited, so the rankings in domestic competitions are crucial.

Zhang Jue won the championship at the National Figure Skating Championships, and everyone deserved various slots. However, due to age restrictions, he could only participate in the World Junior Championships, leaving the opportunities for the Four Continents and World Championships to the runner-up at the National Championships—Dong Xiaolong.

Speaking of competition slots, in fact, the situation for Chinese men’s singles was quite unfortunate. Originally, they had only one slot for major competitions, and the competition should have been intense. However, considering that the most talented young skater is still in the junior category, Dong Xiaolong was sent to fill in.

On the other hand, Russia, with an abundance of figure skating talent, even though they had three slots for each of the four figure skating disciplines, caused a significant upheaval at the Russian Championships. Especially in women’s singles, the intensity surpassed even the World Championships.

In the end, the Russian Figure Skating Federation had to make a move. They allocated the three slots for the World Championships to the skaters who ranked 1st, 2nd, and 4th, and for the European Championships, they sent skaters who ranked 1st, 3rd, and 5th. It’s like dividing a big cake, everyone gets a chance to participate in A-level competitions.

Well, the competition in Russian figure skating was as intense as China’s table tennis.

Shen Liu commented on Dong Xiaolong: “Xiaolong has always been calm, but unfortunately, he injured the Achilles tendon muscle when practicing the quadruple jump. At that time, he almost retired. Now, his highest difficulty single jump is only the 3A. I think he only plans to persist for the next two years.”

Zhang Junbao was also familiar with Dong Xiaolong. He added: “Xiaolong’s expressiveness is actually not bad. He handles emotions very well. It’s just that his foundation in dance is lacking, and his upper body is too stiff during skating and jumping. It’s a pity. He started figure skating at the age of 10. His rotation and footwork foundations were weak. Later, he suffered a major injury. Originally, his potential was recognized as high.”

Zhang Jue, resting his chin on his hand, asked with curiosity: “Do you all know him?”

The old uncle and Shen Liu laughed together. Of course, they knew him. How could they not know him?

Shen Liu rubbed Zhang Jue’s little head: “He was brought up by Coach Lu. If you really think about it, you should call him Senior Brother. Otherwise, why do you think as soon as he saw that you couldn’t get on the podium by yourself, he immediately reached out to help you?”

Coach Lu is Zhang Jue’s figure skating mentor. He originated from a skiing background and is now a seventy-year-old man. In Zhang Jue’s memory, Coach Lu was very strict, always having a bunch of demands. Even if Zhang Jue worked hard to complete the tasks given by him, Coach Lu wouldn’t show a good expression; he would just give him even more challenging tasks.

Although Zhang Jue transformed from a 5-year-old stumbling on the ice to an 8-year-old prodigy capable of performing triple jumps, he temporarily lost interest in figure skating due to Coach Lu’s demands.

His gaze wandered for a while, and he said with a downturned expression: “Let’s not mention the podium incident. We can still be good friends.”

With his height disadvantage, facing a podium half a meter high, Zhang Jue thought that if he relied solely on himself to get up there, he might need to crawl using both hands and feet. However, if he really did that, it would probably become a joke, spreading widely among figure skating fans.

Ah, actually, the joke about the podium with a concave shape was already widely spread among figure skating fans.

The two coaches happily laughed and didn’t continue to trouble Zhang Jue. Instead, they brought up another matter.

Among athletes, there are generally two types of physique. One type is flexible and strong but lacks a bit of power, and the other type is strong but lacks flexibility. Zhang Jue is a typical example of the former, while Chahan Buhua and Xu Chuo belong to the latter.

So now, Zhang Jue needs to vigorously train jumps, while his junior siblings need to work hard on flexibility and strength. Sometimes, in the middle of Zhang Jue’s training, you can still hear the two kids’ miserable screams coming from the adjacent dance studio.

Efforts naturally bring rewards. In the junior category competition, Chahan Buhua, due to lack of experience in major competitions, only took the tenth place. However, Xu Chuo outperformed all her peers and ultimately achieved a score that even surpassed Lu Xiaorong, winning a silver medal in the junior category.

After this battle, Xu Chuo successfully caught the attention of many coaches. Sun Qian couldn’t successfully recruit Zhang Jue into the national team, and now she set her sights on Xu Chuo. After the competition, she went to chat with Coach Song Cheng and Xu Chuo’s mother for a long time.

Zhang Junbao said: “Xiao Chuo also seems to want to join the national team… She might not stay with us for long.”

As a coach, Zhang Junbao can only wish for his students to reach bigger platforms. However, saying that there is no regret in his heart is impossible.

In the past, he had lost two students to other coaches. At that time, Zhang Junbao didn’t say anything, but his heart must have felt extremely uncomfortable. Fortunately, now Zhang Jue will stay with him, allowing the old uncle to maintain such a calm state of mind.

Zhang Jue leaned softly against his old uncle, expressing loyalty like a spoiled child: “I will always stay by your side, I won’t leave even if you try to drive me away.”

Zhang Junbao pinched his cheeks and said: “Come on, you just felt that I favored you the most, so you kept following me. Isn’t your ballet teacher good? Wasn’t Coach Lu, who taught you before, good? Look at how solid your technical foundation was. If they weren’t strict, could you have reached your current level?”

Zhang Jue shrugged: “I know Coach Lu is a good coach, but he always criticized me, constantly pointing out my flaws. I hate being scolded in front of a group of people.”

Furthermore, he practiced figure skating with his uncle for two reasons: one for his uncle’s sake, and two for his physique. What does it have to do with whether his uncle spoils him or not? Even if Zhang Jue didn’t practice figure skating, Zhang Junbao would still treat him like a cherished baby!

Unaware of his nephew’s thoughts, the uncle continued to pinch Zhang Jue’s cheeks, criticizing the child’s attitude.

“Clearly, you lack stability. Coach Lu also values your potential, wanting to develop you into a world-class athlete. That’s why he made so many demands on you. If it were another child, do you think he would invest so much effort?”

Zhang Jue vaguely retorted: “Children need positive feedback to endure the hardships of training. It’s not that I can’t endure hardship, but I don’t want to put in effort and not hear a single kind word in return.”

What he said was quite common, and Zhang Junbao could only helplessly poke Zhang Jue’s forehead again.

“You, you’re just an ungrateful little deer. Since you can endure the hardships of sports, what’s wrong with the coach being stricter?”

In this world, there are many talented athletes who, due to a lack of a solid foundation, end up with major injuries because of technical flaws. When Zhang Junbao initially sent Zhang Jue to learn ice skating, he specifically chose Coach Lu because of his excellent teaching abilities.

Zhang Jue is a fragile and injury-prone individual, but despite enduring so much jump training, not only due to the excellent team doctor but also because of standardized technique, he has managed to avoid countless risks of injuries.

At the end of January, the Four Continents Championships and the European Championships were held simultaneously. However, due to approaching the final exams of the first semester of the third year of junior high, Zhang Jue had to carry his backpack and return to campus life.

It was said that in previous years, third-year junior high students only had half a day off on Friday afternoons, and they had to continue taking supplementary classes at school on Saturdays and Sundays. Fortunately, with the goal of achieving better results in the high school entrance exams, they endured. However, now the city’s education bureau has become stricter, canceling the supplementary classes.

As soon as this rule was announced, students were initially delighted, but soon those with relatively affluent families discovered that although the school didn’t have supplementary classes, their parents had already arranged for them to attend extracurricular tutoring centers, making their weekends just as busy.

While the kids from families without money… well, the ones who can get into this provincial key junior high school aren’t considered stupid. At this time, working harder might make a difference in the end.

Fortunately, there are still many good teachers in the north who are concentrated in public schools. For example, the school Zhang Jue attends has many experienced teachers who have won awards in provincial teaching competitions. Just by entering this school, the children already have better educational resources than most of their peers.

It is precisely because of the presence of these good teachers that school district housing becomes especially valuable. Parents go to great lengths to buy good houses, striving to get their children into key schools, all in the hope that they will have a good future.

Zhang Jue originally wouldn’t think about these things. In the distant past, at the age of 13, besides endless loneliness and darkness, he had nothing. The pain of losing his family made him feel like a trapped beast in a cage, unable to escape and not knowing where to go.

During the hardest times, he would secretly leave home at three in the morning, walking to the suburban cemetery. He would sit in front of his parents’ and brother’s tombstones, crying uncontrollably until he fainted. When he woke up, he found himself lying on his uncle’s back, rain falling lightly from the sky, and his uncle’s jacket covering him.

Naturally, under such circumstances, there was no need to consider whether his grades were good or not. As long as he avoided fights and trouble, parents and teachers would have to pray together.

Later, he unsurprisingly messed up the high school entrance exam but still got into a decent high school. This was because, upon learning about his declining grades, Zhang Junbao took charge and trained him for a whole summer in the triple jump… Later, Zhang Jue achieved the results of a second-level athlete and received a special admission.

It’s also fortunate that Zhang Junbao supported Zhang Jue as a family during that time. Otherwise, with his troublesome personality during adolescence, worse than the Monkey King, it’s hard to say how he would have turned out.

On the last Friday before the final exams, the class atmosphere was exceptionally tense. After finally finishing class, there were still many students in the class working on assignments.

Zhang Jue finished the last English weekly report, shoved all his books and stationery into his backpack, hoisted the heavy bag, and prepared to leave. But someone called out behind him.

“Zhang Jue, later, our subject representatives will share their learning experiences. Do you want to listen and then share about chemistry?”

The young boy turned around to see a slim, bespectacled girl shyly looking at him.

“Sharing learning experiences?”

Zhang Jue put down his bag, sat on the desk, and tilted his head: “What activity is this? Why don’t I know about it?”

“You have training and competitions, so we didn’t inform you about many activities.”

Chen Sijia explained: “This activity was actually initiated by me. Initially, I wrote the composition learning experiences and points recorded by the tutoring center on the blackboard. Those interested could note them down, and the next day, the duty student would erase it. Later, Wang Wen, Li Junkai, and others shared learning experiences in physics and mathematics. Now, we share two subjects every day.”

Zhang Jue understood. He showed approval, saying: “This activity is good. Which two subjects are being shared today?”

The girl with glasses replied: “It’s English and chemistry. I’ll talk about English. If you stay, I’ll leave chemistry to you.”

English, huh…

Zhang Jue decisively nodded: “Your activity is excellent. I’ve decided to participate.”

He picked up a bright red, car-shaped phone and sent a text message. He began searching for English notes from his backpack. Due to his rough movements, two books slid out, and a maple leaf bookmark fell out.

Chen Sijia smiled, pursed her lips, and squatted down to help him tidy up.

At seven in the evening, the sky was already dark, and streetlights illuminated the roadside. Zhang Junbao, breathing visibly with white mist in the cold wind, could see it dispersing.

When he arrived at the entrance of Zhang Jue’s classroom, he saw several parents by the window, and his nephew was on the stage, chattering away with a constantly moving little mouth, and the blackboard displayed somewhat sloppy thin characters.

Hmm, Zhang Jue’s stepfather, Xu Yan, wrote beautiful thin characters, and even his two children’s handwriting was quite good.

After Zhang Jue finished talking, he took the chalk and wanted to write on the blackboard but found that the area below the blackboard was already filled.

No problem, the sports committee member rushed over with a stool. Zhang Jue nodded in satisfaction, lifted his foot, stepped on it, and continued to wave the chalk while tiptoeing.

Zhang Junbao couldn’t help but burst into laughter. Leaning against the corridor wall, he looked up at the crescent moon in the sky, covering his mouth, trying hard not to laugh.

An auntie around forty, seeing this handsome young man and thinking he looked somewhat like Zhang Jue, asked with a smile: “You must be Zhang Jue’s brother, right?”

Zhang Jun cleared his throat and stood up straight: “I am his uncle.”

Several uncles and aunties around showed surprised expressions.

The auntie couldn’t believe it: “Oh my, then you must be the old one in the family. I see you don’t look like you’re in your twenties. How old are you this year?”

The 31-year-old Zhang Junbao explained diligently for 5 minutes but still couldn’t make the uncles and aunties believe that he graduated from university eight years ago.

Until the spontaneously organized learning activity by the kids ended, Zhang Jue, carrying a large backpack, walked out of the classroom. When he saw Zhang Junbao, the child’s eyes lit up, and he happily pounced over, his voice containing an excess of sweetness.


Zhang Junbao caught the little one, took over his backpack, which weighed at least thirty pounds, and hugged Zhang Jue, walking away.

“Hurry up and come with me. There are still 25 minutes, and your ballet class is about to start. I brought you chicken breast made by the cafeteria auntie, whole-grain biscuits, boiled eggs, apples, milk. You can have dinner on the way.”


Support translation:

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