Figure Skating: I’m More Suited for the Olympics – Chapter 50 – Sand and Dust

Since Zhang Jue emerged on the scene at the Junior Grand Prix, his popularity among figure skating fans has been growing steadily due to his combination of skill and good looks. By the time of the World Junior Championships, about 80% of domestic figure skating fans had their attention focused on him.

According to fan statistics, there were seven prophecy posts related to Zhang Jue alone on various forums and discussion boards. This happened to be the number that could summon the Shenlong (Dragon). Everyone was betting on what color medal Little Crocodile would bring back.

Bronze, definitely bronze!

Although our boy has advantages in stamina and flexibility, he’s too young, lacks experience in major competitions, and doesn’t have the advantage of nationality. Hayato Teraoka is in his last year in the Junior category and will surely strive for the gold at the World Juniors. Ilya Safoshenko is the Russian prince; winning against him is too difficult.

But Zhang Jue should have no problem dominating the others. This kid has a stable 3A, never falters in the short program, and always opens up a gap with other competitors. As long as he doesn’t make a major mistake this time, getting on the podium is a sure thing, and with some luck, he might even get the silver.

Wait until next year when Ilya Safoshenko and Hayato Teraoka move up. The Junior category will be our boy’s territory!

Unexpectedly, Zhang Jue not only landed a 4S in the free skate but also won the gold medal. Since there was no time difference issue between South Korea and China, many people were watching the live broadcast online, resulting in a joyful atmosphere.

Winning the championship was already a joyous occasion for their own child, and with his amusing antics during the awards ceremony, the celebration became even more joyful.

When Zhang Jue received the award, the audience burst into laughter at the venue. People in front of their TVs and computer screens joined in the laughter. Some even admired Zhang Jue’s posture as he stepped onto the podium.

Everyone, don’t just laugh, did you notice that after Little Jue fell, the movement of pushing up with both hands to get on the stage was like the Russian-style prone push-ups, just without straightening the legs afterward? Otherwise, it would be a complete Russian push-up.

This kid looks thin, but the strength of his shoulders, arms, wrists, and chest muscles is amazing.

Wait a minute, isn’t figure skating mainly about hip and leg strength? How come his upper body strength looks strong too?

Hey, you forgot about Zhang Jue’s incredible spinning speed. This is about upper body and hip strength. However, for athletes who can win gold in A-level competitions like him, his physical strength is undoubtedly at a monster level for most normal people.

Less than three hours after Zhang Jue won the gold, he appeared again on the 8 p.m. local news in H province.

At that time, Chen Sijia was sitting on the couch, holding a bowl of noodles, watching the news. Until the host, with a dignified smile, spoke those words with a beautiful voice.

“It is reported that our province’s young figure skater and newly crowned champion of the World Junior Figure Skating Championships, Zhang Jue, fought against a group of reporters at the Gangneung Station in South Korea with a mop to protect his foreign athlete friends who were surrounded due to their coach’s sexual harassment.”

Chen Sijia was immediately stunned. She coughed violently and saw Zhang Jue holding a mop, shouting “Sweeping through a thousand armies,” with a blond handsome man holding a folding stool beside him. It was clear they were on the same team.

Those who didn’t know thought they were filming a comedy movie.

Chen Sijia remained silent for a long time. She turned her head, covered her mouth, and her shoulders shook. Her mother next to her also burst into laughter.

“Hahaha, where did this kid come from? Why is he so funny?”

After the segment where Zhang Jue scolded people in Northeastern dialect seemed, to the audience, like their own child bravely condemning the villains. It looked cute and funny, making people want to reach into the TV and ruffle Zhang Jue’s little head.

After this incident, many people who had never paid attention to figure skating before learned about this kid from Northeast China. Not only did he win the first gold medal in figure skating for Tucun, but he also handled a mop in such an unexpected way.

In an unexpected way, Zhang Jue became a rare athlete in China who successfully broke through in the Junior category, and precisely because he broke through, the leaders of the Sports Bureau had no choice but to adopt a stance of punishing him.

Originally, they were too lazy to punish Zhang Jue. After all, he was the only successful male skater in the country. If they really punished him severely, it was unknown who would feel distressed. Many people were planning to advise themselves with their noses pinched: “Forget it, forget it, the child is still young,” and let the matter pass.

In any case, the child didn’t really do anything wrong. Many adults even thought Zhang Jue did it beautifully.

Keeping kindness and impulsiveness, daring to fight against injustice and darkness, expressing one’s anger were never a bad thing. Silently and gently walking into the dark night only encouraged the evildoers.

When Zhang Jue returned to China, the newly crowned World Junior Champion nicknamed the little troublemaker, began his training journey.

Starting from leaders of the Sports Bureau whom he had never seen before, to Sun Qian, Zhang Jue was scolded until his ears were numb. Afterward, he was also punished to write a 5,000-word self-criticism and recite it in front of the leaders.

They still gave Zhang Jue some face; they didn’t make him recite it in front of the entire national team. However, this was related to Zhang Jue only being a member of the provincial team and not joining the national team.

But apart from enduring scolding and writing self-criticism, Zhang Jue did not receive any other substantial punishment. After scolding him, they even gave him a bonus. It felt like a thunderclap with light rain, a raised palm that gently fell, and a plate of candies was also stuffed into his hands.

So, after Zhang Xiaoyu finished writing the self-criticism, he still had the mood to count the zeros in his bankbook.

Three zeros…

Writing self-criticisms, reciting self-criticisms, and facing criticism from leaders, the little kid sniffled, showing no change in expression.

Clearly, there were four zeros in the bankbook just before.

The only comforting thing for him was the email from Choi Jung-soo, stating that Yin Meijing and Liu Mengcheng had safely arrived in Busan. They found a law firm and, with the help of a kind lawyer, secured a concealed and safe residence.

Oh, and they also received an invitation from Ayala, the head coach of the Kazakhstan figure skating national team.

“Kazakhstan? That sounds nice.”

While performing on the ice, Zhang Jue greeted many figure skating insiders, guided by Shen Liu. This included coaches of Vasili and Ilya, the Russian men’s singles godfather Boris, and the figure skating godmother Ayala from Kazakhstan.

She was a lady with blonde hair and blue eyes, seemingly in her early thirties despite being over forty. She always spoke with a kind smile, delicate features, and had been a beauty who conformed to the “figure skating beauties everywhere” law when she was young.

Ayala was a former world-ranked fifth female single skater in the 1980s. At that time, Kazakhstan was still a socialist state. Until the departure of the big brother in the 1990s and the dissolution of the sports system devoted to the whole country, many excellent athletes and coaches chose to go to North America and other places, directly leading to the prosperity of the North American figure skating market.

The champions of the 1998 and 2002 figure skating women’s singles were both from North America.

Kazakhstan also went through the pains of leaving socialism, but Ayala did not leave her homeland during the most difficult times. She hid for several years, and in the 2006 Winter Olympics, she and her disciple Kharhasha won fourth place. In the not-so-strong field of figure skating in Central Asia, such achievements were already remarkable. This established her position as the national team coach.

Unfortunately, although she was excellent in coaching singles skating, she was not good at teaching pair skating and ice dancing. Naturalizing outstanding athletes became the best way for Kazakhstan to fill this gap.

Yin Meijing and Liu Mengcheng won silver at the Junior Grand Prix and bronze at the World Junior Championships before the incident. Those who could beat them were from North America or the Russian system. Without the pressure of nationality, it was hard to predict who would eventually win the gold.

For this world-class pair, naturalization was undoubtedly a win-win option.

In his memory, when Kharhasha was in his twenties, he won a bronze medal at the World Championships, becoming one of the top-ranked sports stars in the country. If Yin Meijing and Liu Mengcheng skated well, they would definitely make sports fans in Kazakhstan feel that it was worth it.

Finally, Zhang Jue replied with a short blessing in his email.

“Wish you all the best.”

He clicked the send button at 5:20 PM. Zhang Jue stretched lazily, like a cat basking in the sun after a satisfying nap.

At this moment, a cheerful song started playing indoors.

“Lu la lu la li~”

Zhang Jue picked up his phone and was surprised to see the incoming call.

“Grandpa Qin?”

He answered the call: “Good afternoon, Grandpa Qin. Have you had dinner… Oh? I see. Alright, I’ll go over there. Please wait a moment; let me note down the address…”

Zhang Junbao and Shen Liu were still at the Sports Bureau attending a meeting. Zhang Jue put on his coat, left a note, and ran out of the hotel.

March was the season when Beijing was ravaged by sandstorms. It was already dusk, combined with the sand-filled air, everything appeared dim.

Zhang Jue wore a mask and a hat, doing his best to cover himself, but he couldn’t cover his eyes. He had sensitive eyes, and after walking a few dozen meters, the corners of his eyes began to itch.

After stopping a car, the driver, hearing that this boy was probably a primary school student based on the given address, immediately reminded him.

“Kid, it’ll cost at least 120 yuan to go there.”

Zhang Jue quickly replied: “I have money. Can you please take me there? My grandpa told me that my brother hadn’t been out for two days, so he asked me to check on him.”


The driver stepped on the gas.

Due to poor visibility and the presence of a child in the car, he didn’t dare to drive too fast. Coupled with the rush hour, the speed of the small car’s progress was causing anxiety. When they were crossing a bridge, a collision occurred ahead, and even though the traffic police arrived to mediate promptly, they still got stuck for thirty minutes.

When Zhang Jue got off after paying, it was already 8 p.m. He arrived at an old residential area with buildings in the style of old apartment buildings. The motion-sensor lights in the stairwell either didn’t respond at all or responded with a delay, creating a chilling atmosphere.

Building 12, Apartment 602. Xu Zhengsong was eating donkey meat hot pot and watching the news when he heard someone knocking on the door.

The knocking had a certain rhythm—three short and two long knocks, giving off an air of “I’m in a hurry, but I still want to be polite and won’t kick the door.”

Xu Zhengsong stood up and shouted: “Who’s there?” When he opened the door, there was no one in sight. The pitch-black stairwell emitted a creepy ghostly vibe.

The tall boy of 1.88 meters shivered involuntarily, recalling the image of Sadako sister that he had seen on the computer last night. He was about to close the door and, just then, a clear and soft voice came from below.

“Excuse me, is Qin Xuejun living here?”

Xu Zhengsong looked down and saw a cute smiling face.


Support translation:

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