Figure Skating: I’m More Suited for the Olympics – Chapter 58 – Strong and Thick

Receiving love letters is actually a common occurrence for a former idol trainee.

Despite having a large fan base now, including fans of various ages and even grandparents, in his previous life, Zhang Jue’s fan groups mainly consisted of those who admired his looks, career achievements, and those who were fans of his rumored ship.

In Zhang Jue’s memory, he had even received love letters from junior colleagues in the same company, yes, male junior colleagues.

Similar to his uncle Zhang Junbao, the adult version of Zhang Jue unexpectedly attracted attention from the same gender, the kind that even straight guys would acknowledge as handsome, the type that leaves people speechless.

Regardless of whether the sender of the love letter is a boy or a girl, there are unwritten rules in society that adults should not engage in romantic relationships with minors.

Although he appeared inexperienced on the skating rink, Zhang Jue had always been a disciplined man. Since his soul was that of an adult, he didn’t intend to consider matters of love before entering university.

As a law-abiding person, he wouldn’t engage in romantic relationships with minors. According to him, those young kids should focus on studying instead of thinking about love.

Zhang Jue didn’t think that those who liked him were weird or abnormal. After all, when you round it up, he was around 1.6 meters tall, and with good proportions that elongated his visual appearance. Standing next to Choi Jung-soo, who was also 1.6 meters tall, he didn’t look short.

Moreover, those who wrote letters to him were peers, and their confessions were so innocent and cute. The feeling of being liked by them was similar to the cheers of fans shouting: “Brother, I support you.” Though it didn’t make his heart flutter, he felt gratitude for their affection.

So, Zhang Jue had only one thought about this matter.

After the end of the mid-term exams, the kids who survived the battlefield of exams comfortably sat in his uncle’s old golden cup. The first thing upon reaching the provincial team was not change clothes and warm up but to pull out a stack of pre-prepared postcards from his pocket and hand them to Coach Song.

“Coach Song, these are postcards with my photo. Did we authorize these?”

Coach Song casually picked up one, glanced at it, and replied: “No, we haven’t. Since the postcards of Jin Meng and Yao Lan didn’t sell well, we haven’t printed these things. The photos are well taken, though. Is this a love letter?”

Could it be that his nephew’s popularity had grown to the extent that people were making unauthorized copies of his pictures?

No! Coach Song refused to accept this. In his heart, Zhang Jue was still a baby!

Wait, this kid was clearly in elementary school… No, in his first year of junior high school. Why were those high school students so bold as to write him love letters?

Zhang Jue nodded cutely: “Yeah, many people have been stuffing these into my drawer lately. Judging by the handwriting, they seem to be from different people.”

To be precise, the first love letter acted as a switch. Since that day, every time Zhang Jue went for a run during breaks, he would find one or two extra letters in his drawer when he returned.

But at the same time, no one gave him anything other than letters. According to Chen Sijia, many students would give snacks or milk tea to their crush, but since Zhang Jue was an athlete and couldn’t casually eat other things, everyone simply chose to write letters.

However, the love letters Zhang Jue gave to Coach Song were the kind without signatures. Those who put love letters in his drawer probably just wanted to express their admiration, not necessarily intending to develop anything. As for the ones with signatures, Zhang Jue had found a way to deal with them.

Coach Song asked: “Have you stopped getting into fights since entering junior school?”

Zhang Jue nodded again: “Yeah, the discipline at Sanzhong is quite good, and I don’t need to fight anymore. Why, Coach?”

Coach Song remarked: “Nothing, it’s just that if you were still the little tyrant who used to fight frequently, you wouldn’t have so many people daring to write you love letters.”

On the side, Shen Liu seized on another point: “So, you received so many love letters, and your main concern is someone printing unauthorized copies of your postcards?”

Coach Song and Shen Liu exchanged glances, both expressing: “Looks like we don’t have to worry about Zhang Jue starting an early romance in this lifetime.”

With Zhang Jue’s current behavior, if he were to engage in a romantic relationship, the coaches might as well remove their heads for him to use as bait.

At this point, Zhang Junbao finally understood the situation. His face was full of shock: “What? These people actually printed unauthorized copies of little Jue photos without permission? That’s too much! It’s a violation of his image rights!”

Coach Song: “…”

Forgot that Zhang Jue’s uncle was also a 32-year-old man who was still single. Isn’t it a bit sad that they resemble each other even in such matters?

Coach Song looked helpless: “Alright, I’ll report this to Director Wen and let the professionals handle it. Zhang Jue, how did you feel about the mid-term exams? Can you make it to the top hundred?”

Zhang Qingyan had set rules. Only if Zhang Jue made it to the top 100 in exams, would she allow him to skip evening self-study for the first half month before the final, and he wouldn’t need to attend makeup classes on weekends. All that time would be dedicated to figure skating.

Zhang Jue confidently nodded: “Don’t worry, just the top 100, and the difficulty is like a sprinkle of water. I think I did pretty well, and I might score over 640.”

Moreover, he had learned English for two lifetimes, with his current life involving tutoring and receiving notes from top teachers. He also frequently went abroad to experience environments where he had to use a foreign language for communication. Zhang Jue did well in English.

“Alright, go for training.”

Sending him off to warm-up, Coach Song noticed that this incident hadn’t affected the training quality of the kid at all. He still jumped with vigor, showing great effort.

Training on the same ice rink with him were a few kids in their teens, including Cha Hanbuhua, a girl with a slender figure named Min Shan, and a boy with a similar build named Jiang Yihong. They were 10 and 9 years old, respectively, and both had mastered the 2A jump, showing promising talent.

However, Zhang Jue remained the most outstanding. He was currently training for the quadruple jump, and it was evident that his 4S was receiving special attention that day. During practice, the kid even managed to execute several 4S+3T jumps, and people around him looked at him with awe.

Since Zhang Jue turned 14, the coaching team had attempted to start the training for his quadruple jump, meaning they no longer restricted the amount of training for the quadruple jump.

Up until that point, among those who had mastered the quadruple jump, most could perform 4T, and there weren’t many who trained for 4S. Zhang Jue was possibly the only skater in the world who could execute 4S with such high quality.

Yes, the difficulties athletes could attempt in training were much higher than those in competitions, including some bizarre and extraterrestrial difficulty techniques.

Zhang Jue not only attempted to raise his hand while executing 4S but also tried consecutive jumps like 4S+1lo+3S. He even raised his hand during the final 3S or continuously performed extreme consecutive jumps in the form of 1lo+3S after completing 4S.

But as long as his condition was good, he could complete all these jumps.

Having resumed training for two years, Zhang Jue became increasingly proficient in technical aspects. As long as he was in good condition, his jumping ability seemed like a bug – he dared to attempt any difficulty, and there was a real possibility of completing them.

Even Shen Liu, with his more rational personality, would sometimes sigh and say: “Looking at his training condition, it’s no wonder he dared to be so bold in Nagano. This kid’s foundation is really strong.”

Even if the 4S wasn’t successful, Zhang Jue had already trained to execute a stable 3A+3T. The error rate for 3lz+3lo in this season’s competitions was astonishingly zero. Therefore, Zhang Jue’s quadruple jump had a considerable fault tolerance. If the 4S didn’t work out, he could make up for it with other jumps. And if he succeeded, even better.

Anyway, there weren’t many formidable opponents in the junior division now, so why not go all out?

Zhang Junbao watched for a while and commented: “Let Yang Zhiyuan prepare more bandages. The injury rate for the quadruple jump is there for all to see. Even those who overtrain can get hurt. The way he’s training now, it always makes me anxious.”

Perhaps only in a fantasy world could there be athletes who wouldn’t get injured no matter how they trained. In reality, athletes inevitably faced injuries. Many of them trained to break their own limits and achieve more challenging techniques, pushing themselves even while injured.

Zhang Junbao was concerned for Zhang Jue. He would prefer Zhang Jue to progress more slowly in technical difficulty if it meant the young skater suffered fewer injuries, ensuring a longer professional career.

Retirement due to injuries was a common occurrence in competitive sports, but it was still too cruel.

At that moment, skating coach Ming Jia walked over, holding a sheet of paper, and cheerfully shared some news.

“The fourth stop of the senior division is over.”

His words attracted the attention of many, and everyone eagerly asked: “How did the competition go?”

The fourth stop for the senior division was in Russia. It seemed like a coincidence that many newcomers who moved up this year participated in this stop, including men’s singles skaters Ilya, Hayato Teraoka, Choi Jung-soo, Alexander Popov, as well as women’s singles skaters Shiratsuka Masako and Italy Helena. It was a battlefield for new talents.

The top Russian skater, Vasily, chose to compete in the third and sixth stops, not appearing in his home country. However, the second-ranked Russian skater, Sergei, and the top Italian skater, Macon, were present.

Ming Jia said: “Ilya Safoshenko has already secured two silver medals in the sectional competitions, confirming his entry into this year’s Grand Prix Final. To make it to the final in the first year of moving up a division, even if it’s due to favorable judging, this prince really has some skills.”

“Hayato Teraoka… had an injury flare-up, competed with closed injuries, and ended up in sixth place. Choi Jung-soo finished tenth.”

Song Cheng commented: “Not bad for newcomers.”

Others nodded. The competition in the senior division was naturally more formidable than in the junior division, and having a mediocre performance in the first year after moving up was normal, especially in men’s singles. Most skaters mature in various technical aspects and performance after the age of 18, reaching the peak period for achieving results.

Ming Jia continued: “However, there’s a new talent this year. His condition is as good as Zhang Jue’s. Whenever he competes, he inevitably wins. It’s incredible.”

Everyone chimed in unison: “It’s in women’s singles.”

The peak period for women’s singles is before puberty, so female skaters who move up at the age of 15 often have a significant technical advantage. Several Winter Olympics women’s singles champions have coincidentally moved up at the age of 15.

Shen Liu guessed more precisely: “Did Shiratsuka Masako make it to the podium?”

Ming Jia nodded: “Yes, she won the championship, beating Daria.”

Daria was the champion of last year’s Grand Prix Final and the World Championships.

“And their score difference was 30 points. Shiratsuka Masako landed two 3A jumps in the competition, and also a 3F+3lo.”

This statement silenced the room completely for a moment. After a pause, Zhang Junbao slowly uttered two words, breaking the silence.

“…I go.”

3A is the highest difficulty jump in women’s singles. Moreover, after 2008, when the former women’s singles champion Alice retired due to a sudden heart attack, no one in women’s singles could execute a 3A jump.

Shiratsuka Masako could not only perform advanced 3F3T consecutive jumps but also execute 3A. To put it simply, achieving these feats made her more terrifying than Zhang Jue completing the quadruple jump in the junior division.

Unable to contain himself, Shen Liu said: “As long as she maintains this condition, she has almost secured the championship at the Sochi Winter Olympics in advance.”

Regardless of how much the Russian judges might want their home skaters to win, with Shiratsuka Masako’s technical advantage, it would be futile unless Russia’s women’s singles suddenly produced a prodigy capable of executing the quadruple jump.

Ming Jia added: “And I sneaked a look at her performance. It’s too frightening, both in terms of technical skills and artistic expression. The judges can’t possibly hold her back.”

So, in the end, this girl defied the treatment bias against Asian skaters, winning against Russia’s top skater and stepping on the former world champion. With a stunning performance, she embarked on her journey in the senior division.

At this moment, Zhang Jue on the ice executed a triple jump sequence of 4S+3T+3lo, and it was remarkably perfect, with delayed rotations and raised hands.

There was no doubt that Zhang Jue was a talented athlete, just as formidable as Shiratsuka Masako, with a solid foundation.

Watching his performance, Shen Liu thought: “The age range for the junior division is 13 to 19, but as long as the skill is sufficient and approved by the National Skating Association, one can apply to move up to the senior division at 15. For the Chinese skating association, they are eager for Zhang Jue to grow up quickly and take on the responsibility in the senior men’s singles. Therefore, he is bound to enter the senior division next year, and will he have a world-shocking debut like Shiratsuka Masako?”

Nobody could predict Zhang Jue’s future, but at present, he was indeed dominating the junior division. After returning from the Italy stop, the young skater already had a gold medal in hand, securely entering the Grand Prix Final with a first-place ranking.

It’s worth mentioning that this time, Zhang Jue successfully completed two 4S jumps incorporated into his routine. Although he stumbled on a 3lz+3lo in the latter part, the young skater still managed to break the record for the junior division’s free skate.

However, due to a slight wobble when raising his hand during the 3A jump in the short program, which almost led to a fall, Zhang Jue’s total score did not surpass the record.

Zhang Jue also wondered how Song Cheng commented on him. Now, the higher-ups were starting to print postcards featuring athletes, and they mainly featured Zhang Jue’s photos from competitions and exhibition skating.

Then Zhang Jue discovered that the people who wrote love letters to him were now buying official merchandise. Among them, the most common one was the adorable picture of the little crocodile poking its belly, and the other one with a high probability was Zhang Jue holding a mop.

They were all official versions. Zhang Jue couldn’t fathom which bizarre department was responsible for the athletes’ peripheral operations. Why did even the dark history of the country’s number one skater end up on them?

Zhang “Current Number One” Jue was left speechless, to the point of feeling a bit suffocated.

Even if you buy the official version, I still won’t date any of you.


Support translation:

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Rebecca

    Great chapter

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