Figure Skating: I’m More Suited for the Olympics – Chapter 68 Coaching

“Honghu’s waves are colliding!”

Zhang Junbao slapped the back of Zhang Jue’s head.

“Rowing without paddles, it’s all about the waves!” Shen Liu also gave a slap.

“Ah, young people, be less reckless, take care of your health,” sighed Song Cheng, giving a gentle pat.

The newly crowned champion in the Men’s Junior Singles Final, holding his head, squatted down with a hint of grievance: “I won, and you guys still beat me. Believe it or not, I’ll sing a song before every match, let us paddle together!”

The older uncle got even angrier, grabbed his collar, and took him aside to scold him. Zhang Jue, who was around 80 kilograms now, even with Zhang Junbao, a seasoned ironworker, would require some effort. The bulging biceps made those who wanted to advise him close their mouths.

Despite Zhang Junbao being a charming man with muscles in the eyes of those close to Zhang Jue and Shen Liu, in the eyes of most people, Zhang Junbao was just a muscular man. He often playfully slapped the little alligator’s head in public, even directly smacked Zhang Jue’s hand in the kiss & cry, where the cameras were rolling.

Although Zhang Jue was the kind of mischievous kid who deserved a scolding from his mom, his uncle, and even his coach, seeing their own child win the championship made the coaches genuinely pleased.

The Grand Slam in the Junior category refers to winning gold in both the Grand Prix Final and the Junior World Championships. Although it’s not as challenging as the Grand Slam in the senior category, Zhang Jue was still the first in China to achieve this in Men’s Junior Singles.

This lively kid might be reckless, but since he entered the competition, he has been making history, winning A-level competitions and even setting world records. Before Zhang Jue emerged, they didn’t dare to dream of such achievements.

Francis Miller was probably the happiest person, other than the coaching staff, about Zhang Jue’s victory. He happily discovered that, although he maxed out his credit card, Zhang Jue’s performance was so good in this competition. He got his investment back!

Just now, Liu Mengcheng had agreed to have him choreograph the free skate for the next season. Ayala, the head coach from Kazakhstan, and Carlson, who came from Canada and was known for outstanding choreography, exchanged contact information with him. Even Shiratsuka Masako brought her younger sister Keiko and coach to inquire about his choreography fees.

These kids were not very old, but they were all highly skilled, especially in performance, which was above average. Giving them programs was not a worry, the key was to establish a stable working relationship with them. It was foreseeable that Francis’s business would become more prosperous in the future.

For the first time in history, Zhang Jue found that when he stood on the award podium, the three of them did not form a concave shape.

The silver medalist Carlson on his right and the bronze medalist Alan Helge on his left were both smaller than Zhang Jue. Since figure skaters generally had smaller statures, they were all around 1.6 meters tall. With the added height of the championship podium, Zhang Jue looked significantly taller than them.

Many figure skating fans, looking at this scene, couldn’t help but sigh that this year was truly a rookie year. Not only did the veterans in the senior category have to face the challenges of rising young talents in the Sochi cycle, but even in the junior category, it was the kids who dominated.

Zhang Jue held the Grand Prix Final gold medal, smiling with raised corners of his mouth.

Before the flag-raising ceremony began, he heard Carlson ask him: “You’re moving up to the senior level next year, right?”

Zhang Jue noticed that Alan also turned to listen to their conversation, showing significant interest in this matter.

He honestly replied: “Yes, I will be moving up to the senior level next year.”

More precisely, he had to move up. After all, men’s singles had been on hiatus for a year, and Zhang Jue had the ability to challenge top-level competitions. No one was willing to let him continue wasting time in the junior category.

Becoming a champion and feeling the sense of achievement that raised the flag for himself on this stage was unimaginable for ordinary people. During the flag-raising ceremony, there was a moment when Zhang Jue really thought about staying on this ice rink forever and never leaving. In his previous life, he put in so much effort on the stage, only to end up with death as the final outcome. Thinking about it, figure skating seemed more suitable for him than being an idol. Just skating like this wasn’t bad at all. However…

Various thoughts flashed through his mind, and then Zhang Jue remembered. Excessive training and maintaining low body fat could delay development, while obesity could lead to early development and precocious puberty in children. Therefore, some coaches would make athletes train rigorously and follow a strict diet to deliberately delay their development. This approach was more common in ladies’ singles.

However, his uncle would never allow him to diet. He valued Zhang Jue’s health more than Zhang Jue did.

Carlson and Alan seemed to be relieved, once again congratulating Zhang Jue on his victory. Then, the three young skaters skated a lap together, hugging each other’s shoulders in front of the camera, showing friendly smiles.

Zhang Jue was genuinely happy, and because he smiled so cutely, he looked a bit silly. Carlson and Alan, on the other hand, forced out smiles.

Even if there was reluctance in their hearts, they still had to wear a smile on their faces. Losing was losing, but dignity couldn’t be lost.

After coming off the ice, his uncle took him to the interview area. A familiar-looking reporter with a cameraman ran over.

“Hello, Zhang Jue, I’m a reporter from CCTV-5.”

Zhang Jue looked at this guy, squinted his eyes to identify him, and tentatively called out: “Are you… Reporter Shu Fen?”

Puff, the nearby cameraman chuckled. Shu Fen stared at her colleague, then turned to Zhang Jue with a smile that looked quite affectionate.

Shen Liu poked Zhang Jue: “She’s called Shu Feng!”

Shu Feng cleared her throat and raised the microphone: “Congratulations on winning the Grand Prix Final.”

Zhang Jue blinked: “Thank you.”

Shu Feng: “Your two programs this season were of extremely high quality and had a unique style. I heard from Coach Shen that you chose the music yourself. How did you come up with the idea of incorporating tap dance elements on the ice?”

Zhang Jue: “Um, actually, I’m not the first one to do tap dance on the ice. The men’s singles champion from the 2002 Winter Olympics had a segment in the short program that looked like tap dance in a straight line step. And that segment gave me a lively and vibrant feeling. I got the inspiration from watching the senior’s program.”

The men’s singles champion from the 2002 Winter Olympics, despite retiring early due to a congenital hip defect, was a rare talent with excellent performance, jumping ability, skating, and spins during his active years. The short program and free skate he left at the 2002 Winter Olympics are still classics cherished by figure skating fans to this day.

“When you were performing these two programs, what were you thinking?”

When he heard this question, Zhang Jue noticeably paused for a moment, then nodded and smiled.

“I wanted to make the audience watching the program feel happy.”

He wanted to present the beauty of autumn, the warmth of the sun, to the small audience, even though they left after watching ‘Autumn’…

Zhang Jue felt that this wasn’t something worth emphasizing. By chance, he skated two programs for a seriously ill little girl. The girl eventually left with her parents, and the story ended there. He couldn’t do more for her.

To avoid disturbing the grieving parents who had just lost their daughter, Zhang Jue wouldn’t disclose the full details to the media. So, he changed the topic, praising the coaching staff, saying that he owed today’s success to the coaches’ careful guidance, expressing his gratitude, and so on.

Perhaps because the mischievous kid rarely spoke so straightforwardly, onlookers Shen Liu, Zhang Junbao, and Song Cheng all felt a sweet warmth in their hearts, albeit with a hint of embarrassment.

In the end, Zhang Junbao grabbed the back of his collar and pulled it backward, saying: “Alright, alright, that’s enough. Look at how sweet you talk. People might think it’s some big celebration today.”

Shen Liu patted Zhang Jue’s head, saying: “I brought some pine nuts. Do you want some?”

Zhang Jue shook his head: “I don’t know how to shell pine nuts.”

More accurately, he wasn’t skilled at shelling any kind of nuts, so as long as Xu Dela wasn’t around, he couldn’t be bothered to eat them.

Buying pre-shelled nuts was not within Zhang Jue’s consideration, he found them too expensive.

Shen Liu said: “I’ll manage. Let’s go. The free skate for the Junior Ladies is about to start. Let’s go and watch your junior sister Xu’s performance.”

This group of people didn’t shy away from showing how much they favored their own students in front of the camera. Shu Feng, the journalist, sighed inwardly, thinking that the only child in the country was indeed the coaches’ cherished egg.

However, the child didn’t seem spoiled. His performance was outstanding, indicating dedicated training. During interviews, he was polite, articulate, and sweet-spoken. Shu Feng also found Zhang Jue likable, and it wasn’t surprising that even domestic figure skating fans were willing to spend money on his merchandise.

As a hopeful figure in the domestic ladies’ singles category, Xu Chuo also garnered attention.

Shu Feng organized the material in his hands and hurried to the venue with the photographer to continue shooting. The photographer, carrying his equipment, muttered: “Brother Feng, do you think Xu Chuo can make it to the podium this time?”

Shu Feng replied: “Hard to say. She has good technical advantages, but her skating is only mid-tier, and the choice of performance music isn’t ideal.”

Lowering his voice, Shu Feng added: “Xu Chuo is a rare power type among the ladies. She seems to have lost weight this year, improved in rotation speed, but the height during jumps has decreased. She definitely follows a controlled diet, but the training intensity increased significantly after joining the national team. I’m worried she might get injured.”

Training rigorously without proper nutrition increases the risk of injuries.

The photographer, puzzled, said: “Why did she change coaches when she was doing well with Coach Zhang? I remember when she was with Coach Zhang, her performances had more vitality. Before Coach Zhang, I hadn’t heard of any coach who would write performance insights together with the students.”

This information came from an interview with Zhang Jue. Zhang Junbao not only focused on the comprehensive development of the students, excelling in both jumps and spins but also made adjustments to their training intensity when necessary. He paid attention to their diet to ensure the athletes’ long-term well-being. Both Zhang Jue and Xu Chuo showed that Zhang Junbao’s coaching skills were indeed impressive.

In the eyes of outsiders, Zhang Junbao had already cultivated a new star in men’s singles and a potential future star in ladies’ singles.

Moreover, he let the students decide what music to skate to, and if needed, he would choose the competition music for them. He didn’t just sit by; he genuinely wrote down the understanding of all the music the students would skate to. Before writing the understanding, he would guide the students in finding information about the music and the era in which it was composed. When working on the performance with the athletes, he would improve their emotional understanding of the music through personal conversations. His dedication was even more effortful than a language teacher guiding students through reading comprehension.

However, Xu Chuo’s mother believed that Zhang Junbao was more suitable for coaching men’s singles and cared too much for Zhang Jue. So, she insisted on having her daughter change coaches. Despite practicing classical dance and softening her upper body during performances this year, Xu Chuo’s aura seemed diminished.

No, rather than saying it was a reduction in vitality, it was more of a selection issue. Xu Chuo had a lively and cute personality, and her petite and adorable appearance suited music with a strong girlish feel. However, all her programs this year were classical, and how could Junior Ladies handle classical music? Not everyone possessed the expressive power of Zhang Jue.

Shu Feng shook his head: “Didn’t you hear what Xu Chuo’s mother said in the recent interview with the national team? She thinks, as long as Zhang Jue is around, Coach Zhang’s main focus is on Zhang Jue. She probably feels it’s better to be the head of a chicken than the tail of a phoenix.”

In summary, it was an outsider giving opinions on the insider’s business. Shu Feng, also a figure skating enthusiast, believed that power types were scarce among ladies, but with the right training methods, their potential could be high.

The current Japanese Ladies’ singles ace, Shiratsuka Masako, who had successfully landed the 3lz+3lo and 3A, was also a power type. Her jumps looked high and graceful, earning praise within the industry. If Xu Chuo worked hard and improved her expressive power, spins, and skating, she could potentially become the next Shiratsuka Masako.

What a pity.

Among the four figure skating disciplines, ladies’ singles consistently had higher popularity, and the audience’s reaction on-site was enthusiastic.

However, Fukuoka’s enchanting ice rink once again displayed its power today. The first young skater hadn’t even started her program when she slipped during skating.

The second girl, more cautious this time, ended up with poor-quality movements due to excessive tension, resulting in a significant drop in her performance score.

The third girl seemed to have a good mindset. Although she fell once, her performance was flawless, and the audience’s response finally became lively.

After watching for a while, Zhang Jue saw Coach Zhao rushing over and greeting Coach Song. “Coach Song, is Team Doctor Yang here?”

Song Cheng became nervous: “He’s in the restroom. What happened to Xu Chuo?”

Coach Zhao hesitated for a moment before whispering: “Xu Chuo slipped during the six-minute practice. Her ankle twisted a bit, diagnosed as a soft tissue abrasion. She needs the team doctor’s treatment before she can go on stage.”

Hearing this, Zhang Junbao’s expression immediately changed. He stood up and said straightforwardly: “I’ll go find Old Yang right now.”

Zhang Jue pulled out his sports bag and opened it, taking out a sheet of painkillers. “These are the painkillers I usually take. They’re the kind that can pass doping tests.”

Athletes, inevitably, face bumps and bruises, and occasionally, if the injuries are not severe, they still participate in competitions. Painkillers become a necessary item to carry.

Shen Liu opened his backpack: “I have very effective adhesive bandages that I’ve been using since my active duty. They’re also safe. Oh, and Brother, there’s also the spray he often uses!”

Coach Zhao suddenly fell silent.

Why are you all so skilled at taking out medicine?


Support translation:

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is kofi3-3.png

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Ika

    You’re back !!!! I’m so happy. Thank you for the up date.

Leave a Reply