Figure Skating: I’m More Suited for the Olympics – Chapter 69 Substance

Actually, when she got injured, Xu Chuo didn’t feel too much pain. However, because she was scheduled to perform second to last, her mother reminded her to jump rope appropriately before going on stage to keep her body active.

“Zhang Jue always goes first in the free skate, and he often jumps rope before the competition, right? He has won so many championships, which means his approach must have its merits. You don’t have to jump too much, 200 times should be enough.”

She always listened to her mother, but after jumping 100 times, Xu Chuo felt something was wrong.

Her ankle hurt.

When she took off her sports shoes to put on ice skates, she stared at the swollen ankle in astonishment.


She was injured. What should she do? Can she still compete now?

But she had worked so hard. She had almost never had a full meal this year, trained so hard, and finally adapted the jumping technique to a light type suitable for her delicate and slender figure. Now, she was on the verge of the final, the awards podium was within reach. She couldn’t afford to get injured at this moment!

“Calm down, Xu Chuo, calm down! Don’t panic!”

Upon hearing the familiar voice, Xu Chuo looked up and saw a muscular chest. Her eyes instantly teared up, and with a trembling voice, she called out: “Coach Zhang.”

The girl pouted and directly plunged into Zhang Junbao’s arms, crying softly.

Zhang Jue, holding a bottle of mineral water and painkillers, squatted beside her: “Xu Chuo, take a painkiller first. The effect takes some time to kick in, so take it early.”

Also, coming out of my uncle’s caring embrace, it’s my territory, okay? You are no longer my uncle’s student, you don’t have the qualification to ask for a hug, you know.

If he didn’t remember that he was an adult, and saying this would lead to a beating, Zhang Jue would almost have laughed out loud.

Actually, having this thought about Zhang Jue wasn’t entirely his fault. After all, Xu Chuo’s mother had watched an interview where she complained that Zhang Junbao favored Zhang Jue too much. Even though Zhang Jue’s progress was understandable, his uncle’s attention to him seemed excessive.

And his uncle never neglected the other students. If Zhang Jue occasionally trained late, you could still see his uncle sitting on the side, modifying the training plans for the students. Sometimes, when the kids felt the training was tough, Zhang Junbao would drag his injured leg and run or swim with them.

Xu Chuo, eating medicine and drinking water with a sniffle, said softly: “Thank you, senior brother,” and then hiccupped after crying.

Zhang Jue was softened by being called senior brother with just one sound. He waved his hand: “No need to thank me.”

Well, even if she has changed her coach now when they were on the same team, she helped him peel garlic. She was his garlic-peeling little sister. Since she left, Zhang Jue only had Shen Liu and Xu Dela as garlic-peeling buddies. Seeing her like this, Zhang Jue felt heartache.

Yang Zhiyuan finished the examination and started flipping through his own medicine box: “Soft tissue contusion, not severe, but it will be painful to compete.”

Because Zhang Jue had a record of competing with injuries, treating this frequently tumbling little athlete so many times, Yang Zhiyuan didn’t make the words too absolute.

“As a doctor, I suggest Xu Chuo withdraw from the competition. But if the child doesn’t want to give up, she can still compete.”

But since she’s injured, with her right foot, which is used as a kick when jumping, don’t expect good results. Xu Chuo’s skills haven’t reached the level of Zhang Jue, who can still crush peers even when injured.

Xu Chuo immediately said firmly: “I want to compete!”

Then, let’s compete.

Don’t say that, in fact, when his younger brother and sister went out to compete, Zhang Jue went to cheer them on whenever he had time, and also brought something for them, such as putting a towel on their shoulders as a makeshift towel rack, carrying a water bottle and tissue box. Even when he didn’t have time, he would shout encouragement.

Now that he couldn’t help with logistics, he could only shout encouragement.

In fact, many young athletes like Xu Chuo have a strong sense of disconnection between their performance on the stage and the music. The music is playing, but whether the young athlete can follow the beat, perform well, and execute technical moves like jumps and spins while enjoying the music is another matter.

Xu Chuo’s expressiveness is not bad, but the difficulty of controlling gentle and soothing classical music is too high, and that sense of disconnection is hard to eliminate.

Zhang Jue leaned on the side, muttering: “In women’s singles, the performance score is only 80. According to Xu Chuo’s previous performance, if I were a judge, I wouldn’t even give her 50. This selection of music is too bad, completely unsuitable for her. Now, with no guarantee in technical points, the performance score won’t go up…”

It’s going to be bad.

Shen Liu slapped him: “Stop talking nonsense!”

The coach is right there, listening!

Coach Zhao smiled bitterly, shaking his head: “Actually, I wanted Xu Chuo to skate ‘Carmen.’ This piece of music is rich in content, many have skated it before, and there are many predecessors to learn from. But Xu Chuo’s mother said that too many people have skated ‘Carmen,’ and after the collision of music, it’s easy to be embarrassing. Moreover, girls should try an elegant and soft style… Xu Chuo listened to her mother, so I just followed them.”

As a result, the child’s ability did not keep up with the music choice. Coach Zhao didn’t say it out loud, but he felt quite unhappy.

Zhang Junbao showed sympathy and extended his hand: “You’re not having an easy time.”

He had been bothered by Xu Chuo’s mother. It’s not easy. He didn’t dare to say that, once said, she would threaten to change coaches. Such handling would also negatively affect the child. Moreover, Xu Chuo’s mother firmly believed that she was also a figure skating coach, and her method was the most suitable for her daughter.

But she’s not a singles skating coach. Didn’t you see that when Kazakhstan’s Ayala coached ice dance with Yin Meijing / Liu Mengcheng, she mainly followed the athletes’ own will? She only provided assistance and gave advice on basic physical fitness and flexibility training.

Coach Zhao and Zhang Junbao shook hands, both feeling somewhat melancholic.

Xu Chuo’s performance on the ice wasn’t good, but she was clever. At the beginning, she reduced the difficulty from 3F+3Lo to a lower difficulty of 3F+2T. Even the combination jumps were changed to 3+2 and 3+1+2. She even replaced her weakest 3Lo with 2Lo.

Although doing so would significantly reduce the program’s base score, due to the enchanting nature of the ice rink today and the multiple falls earlier, as long as there were no mistakes, it would be a victory.

Song Cheng watched and said: “We’ve used this trick with little Jue before.”

It’s common practice to temporarily change movements and lower difficulty after getting injured on the competition stage. Zhang Jue took it to another level. Now, when choreographing, he would confirm at least two sets of jump plans. If the condition wasn’t good, he would switch to the lower difficulty set.

Sometimes, if he made a mistake in the first half of the program, he would increase the difficulty of jumps in the second half depending on his own condition. However, such maneuvers required athletes to have strong mental resilience and on-the-spot adaptability. Many athletes found it challenging just to complete the originally planned routine on the competition stage, let alone someone like Zhang Jue who adapted.

This was also the reason he valued Zhang Jue so much. The kid was sharp-minded, had a big heart, and could secure rankings on the competition stage. In critical moments, he dared to take risks. As long as he didn’t succumb to injuries halfway through, not to mention the Olympics once every four years, he could definitely make it to the podium at the World Championships!

But at this moment, Xu Chuo gave them a surprise.

After the program entered the second half, that sense of disconnection between the performer and the music, where everything didn’t seem to match, gradually disappeared.

Zhang Junbao watched with joy: “Xu Chuo sense of rhythm has always been good, and today, it’s a breakthrough in her condition.”

In Coach Zhang’s opinion, Xu Chuo performance talent was actually not low. The reason she couldn’t handle this program before was simply due to a mismatch in style, preventing Xu Chuo from immersing herself in the music.

“If she could encounter the right music, with her abilities, she could easily score above 60 in performance.”

When Xu Chuo scores were announced, Zhang Junbao looked regretful.

He sighed: “If it were me, I would never let Xu Chuo skate to such an elegant and soft piece of music, nor would I choose ‘Carmen’ for her.”

Shen Liu asked: “Then what would you have her skate to?”

Zhang Junbao replied: “Of course, I would recommend a style like the Showa-era idol, such as Ishii Akemi’s ‘Cha Cha Cha.'”

That was his childhood memory.

Although singles skating programs couldn’t have vocal tracks, removing the vocals and using only the melody was not a problem. “Cha Cha Cha” was originally a dance music adaptation.

“At that time, the little girl could tie two braids, put on a pink velvet ball for a hair accessory, wear a white shirt, and a blue pleated skirt. It would definitely showcase the lively and cute side that girls of her age should have.”

Zhang Jue’s expression immediately became awkward: “Uncle, your taste is exactly the same as my mom’s.”

Mrs. Zhang Qingyan also liked pink velvet head accessories, but she hadn’t worn them since she turned 30.

Zhang Junbao coughed: “She admired those idols when she was a child. Her room was full of their posters, and at home, there was even a sailor suit her mother made.”

Otherwise, where did his memories of Showa-era idol come from?

Shen Liu chuckled, but after that chuckle, there was no further comment. It was unclear what the chuckle meant, but he seemed to understand something.

Xu Chuo eventually secured fourth place, only 0.8 points away from the podium. However, for a 13-year-old entering the Grand Prix Final for the first time, everyone felt it was commendable.

She was still young, and she needed at least two more years in the Junior division. Even Zhang Jue couldn’t win the Grand Prix Final right after entering the Junior division.

Coaches comforted her: “Take good care of yourself these days, and we’ll fight again at the Junior World Championships.”

After Xu Chuo competition, Zhang Junbao turned back to ask Zhang Jue whether he intended to stay for more competitions or go back to the hotel to eat and rest. Surprisingly, he couldn’t find him.

Uncle Zhang quickly looked around, but still didn’t see Zhang Jue’s figure.

He called out in confusion: “Little Jue?”

Didn’t he just leave his big nephew here?

Coaches quickly looked for him. Not far from them, in the stairwell, Zhang Jue helped Shiratsuka Masako sit down and then used tissues to cover her face, blocking her nosebleed.

He said slowly: “Your costume’s collar has been soaked with blood. Can gingivitis cause a nosebleed?”

White Shiratsuka Masako coughed twice, not directly answering Zhang Jue’s question, just smiling and pointing out his grammatical mistake.

“I’m fine. I can take a break and go back to the competition. This is my closest chance to the A-level event championship. I must win.”

Her face was pale, with a layer of cold sweat on her forehead. Zhang Jue, seeing her so determined, didn’t say anything, just holding her knees.

“Does it hurt?”

Pale Shiratsuka Masako stopped, her smile disappeared, and her eyes pleaded: “Don’t talk about it, little Jue.”

Zhang Jue lowered his eyes. He remembered taking care of Zhang Junbao in the oncology ward of the hospital in his previous life. Next door was a leukemia patient.

“Your gums, nosebleeds, and I even saw your menstrual flow was so heavy it stained your clothes. If you add joint pain…”

“Big sister, do you have a blood disease?”

Zhang Jue didn’t know how to pronounce the word leukemia, so he asked her if she had a “blood disease.”

Shiratsuka Masako didn’t speak. Zhang Jue sighed and took out two hand warmers from his pocket, tearing them open and sticking them on her knees.

If nothing unexpected happened, after breaking the world record and winning the championship in the Grand Prix Final, Shiratsuka Masako would disappear from the figure skating scene.

A tear fell on her skirt, staining it with a dark spot. Zhang Jue suddenly felt hugged, and the girl’s cry echoed in his ears.

He patted the girl’s back, comforting her with a hummed song. After listening for a while, Shiratsuka Masako found out that the guy was actually singing the theme song of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics: “Amigos Para Siempre (Friends for Life).”

She chuckled.

She laughed through her tears, took the tissue handed to her by Zhang Jue, and wiped her face.

“Really, even though I managed to hide it from the coach, you figured it out now.”

Zhang Jue had no expression: “You can’t keep hiding it. For the sake of friendship, if you don’t say it, I will tell your coach.”

Shiratsuka Masako sighed helplessly: “I know. Actually, my grandfather and father both passed away from leukemia before the age of 30. To prevent me and Keiko from inheriting this disease, our family stored hematopoietic stem cells for us. I will tell the coach after this competition.”

Zhang Jue tilted his head: “So you won’t die?”

Shiratsuka Masako smiled with curved eyes: “Yes, I won’t die because I haven’t seen Keiko and little Jue become world champions. Even if the Grim Reaper stands at my bedside, I will pick up a mop and beat him back!”

Zhang Jue: I think this Japanese girl is making fun of me.

After searching for a few minutes, Zhang Junbao, who had sweated profusely, found the little guy with both hands in his pockets, holding two cans of Fanta, leisurely walking back. He handed one can to Zhang Junbao, smiling as if nothing had happened.

“Uncle, want a drink?”

Zhang Junbao squinted at Zhang Jue’s expression, half-smiling. He took the drink without saying anything, and actually didn’t say anything at all. He embraced the smelly little guy and went to the spectator seats.

Compared to the Junior division competition, the performance of the athletes in the Senior division was much more mature, and the program’s entertainment value was higher.

But the most exciting was still Shiratsuka Masako program. Her free skate was Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto.

In the figure skating community, there had always been a rumor about the “Rah Magic,” suggesting that as long as a skater performed Rachmaninoff’s Second, even if they were initially capable of winning, they would ultimately only get second place.

However, Shiratsuka Masako broke this curse today. Her performance was full of passion, with a unique sense of strength, and every jump was unbelievably perfect.

A red scarf was tied around the girl’s neck. With each jump, the scarf soared in the air, resembling a flame dancing in the sky.

Observant individuals noticed that this scarf looked similar to the one Zhang Jue used to tie his hair when he skated “Autumn” at the beginning of the season. However, when Zhang Jue skated “Autumn” in the Grand Prix Final, he used a proper hairband, indicating that he probably didn’t bring the scarf.

Zhang Jue watched her figure and softly said: “Unbelievable.”

A cancer patient could produce such a vibrant performance despite the pain—it was simply a miracle.

No wonder, even ten years later, you remained the unforgettable women’s singles skater in Asia.


Support translation:

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