Figure Skating: I’m More Suited for the Olympics – Chapter 74 Advice

On October 16th, in Kent County, Delaware, USA:

Upon landing in the United States, specifically in Kent County, Delaware, Zhang Jue was immediately struck by jet lag. He fell asleep on his uncle’s back and remained in a deep slumber throughout the journey from the airport to the bus and then to the hotel.

Observing how peacefully Zhang Jue slept, Zhang Junbao couldn’t decide if it was the power of jet lag or an envy-inducing display of the young man’s high-quality sleep.

Fortunately, they had good luck, as the past two days in Kent County had experienced thunderstorms and heavy rain. Today, however, the weather had turned into a sunny day, with warm sunlight streaming through the glass windows. It was especially conducive to sleeping.

Shen Liu flipped open his notebook: “The most famous restaurant here is… an English restaurant? English food isn’t that great.”

Zhang Junbao, nonchalant, replied: “No problem, I brought garlic, pickled vegetables, and instant noodles. If English food doesn’t suit us, we won’t eat it.”

Uncle had thought ahead and prepared supplies!

Huang Ying took out her phone and captured the silhouette of Zhang Jue sleeping on Coach Zhang shoulder, smiling mischievously.

“Little Jue is drooling in his sleep, and it’s dripping onto Coach Zhang’s clothes.”

Guan Lin coughed: “Can you stop staring at his abdominal muscles?”

Huang Ying defended herself: “But little Jue drool dripped right there, onto his clothes. His drool even wet his own hair.”

Zhang Jue had a lot of hair, and when tied up, the braids could be heavy enough to pull on the scalp. So, many times, he preferred to leave his hair loose. Huang Ying, looking at the photos she took from the side, couldn’t help but think that, from the side, Zhang Jue truly resembled a little fairy.

This time, the new generation trio chose the same competition for their respective categories because not only was Zhang Jue willing to give other domestic male skaters a chance, but they were also willing to provide opportunities for other pair skaters.

Although for many young skaters, the first competition in the senior category should be their domestic competition, these three were used to major competitions, and the location of the competition didn’t matter to them.

Initially, Huang Ying and Guan Lin didn’t expect to secure two competition spots, but perhaps due to their special chemistry in the new generation pairs, coupled with their throw quad, they were quite favored among figure skating enthusiasts. Therefore, the responses to their competition applications were exceptionally positive.

After Zhang Jue woke up, still not fully alert, Shen Liu brought a chair and sat in front of him.

“Zhang Jue, let me tell you something.”

Zhang Jue asked: “What is it?”

Shen Liu said: “I think you’ve noticed the increased promotional resources you’ve received recently. The attention to figure skating in the country and the attention to you are both rising.”

Zhang Jue nodded: “Yes, and then?”

Shen Liu continued: “The reason for this influx of resources to you is mainly because a leader from the Sports Bureau, recommended by Leader Sun, watched your ‘Dance of the Great River.’ He is Leader Sun’s superior, and he mentioned that he will pay attention to your competitions this year, checking if you have the potential to win medals at the Winter Olympics. So, be cautious. International event organizers know how to play the game. If they invite you to sing again, you can choose GG. Bond, but don’t sing ‘Cherry Bomb.'”

“This is also why I prevented you from using Lady Gaga’s songs when you and Francis were choreographing the performance. The leader is over seventy years old this year. You need to be cautious in the next two years. After Sochi, he will retire, and by then, you can be more carefree.”

Zhang Jue understood.

Nonchalantly, the young boy said: “Got it. My performance this year is quite standard!”

Shen Liu nodded, but he also knew that when Zhang Jue selected the performance song for this season, it was just because the song was used by Hanyu during his drumming grading. It had nothing to do with being standard or not.

He murmured: “You, except for the first year when Madam Miya gave suggestions, have made your own decisions on what songs to skate to every year, and your style changes every year.”

Many skaters have a fixed style, but Zhang Jue’s style has always been changing. If anything, the least change has been in his height.

However, this kid is almost 1.59 meters now, and in the past two months, Zhang Jue seems to have grown a bit faster than before. Moreover, he has started to experience voice changes, indicating that he is about to enter puberty.

Shen Liu stood up: “I’ll get you some warm milk. This way, when you start developing, your knees won’t hurt as much. I trained too hard during my growth period, and with insufficient calcium supplementation, I suffered from intense pain during puberty and was more prone to fractures than others.”

Zhang Junbao chimed in: “Yes, bone health is especially important for athletes. From now on, you should make an effort to supplement protein and calcium.”

Zhang Jue participated in the U.S. and Russian competitions, which were the first and fourth stops of the 2012-2013 season. The U.S. competition had a total of 27 male skaters.

Coincidentally, last year’s sweeping Grand Prix, European Championship, and World Championship winner, Maquen, was also in this competition. Additionally, this year’s promoted skaters Angus Joe, Juventus, and Choi Jung-soo were also present.

“By the way, it seems that Choi Jung-soo has only applied for one stop. Their skating association didn’t even grant a wildcard for their top male skater. He only has two chances to compete.”

Zhang Jue counted on his fingers: “When we reach the Russian stop, I’ll be able to meet Ilya, Yin Meijing and Liu Mengcheng again. Unfortunately, Hayato only chose the Chinese and Japanese stops, and Masako has retired.”

He quite liked meeting friends on the competition stage.

Huang Ying, sharing information, smiled: ” Yin Meijing and Liu Mengcheng are currently the most hopeful athletes in Kazakhstan to win medals at the Sochi Olympics. They are seeded players, so you’ll surely meet them again in the Grand Final.”

Zhang Jue thought it was right. Before the start of this season, those two managed to pay off the money they owed him. Taking advantage of the situation, Zhang Jue organized his savings and found that he had quite a bit. With his parents’ support, he found a house near the China Agricultural University.

The 83-square-meter two-bedroom apartment, although second-hand, was not more than five years old. It was well-furnished with water and electricity, and with a quick cleaning, buying household appliances would be enough to move in.

Zhang Jue was currently in his second year of high school. In two years, he will be able to move in. By then, he won’t have to squeeze into a dormitory with others for the four years of university. However, at present, Zhang Jue has rented out that property to Qin Xuejun at a friendly price. The rent is five hundred yuan per month, and the tenant covers the utilities and internet expenses. After all, if a house is left unoccupied, it will deteriorate. Even if a thief breaks in, Zhang Jue wouldn’t know. It’s better to let someone familiar stay and maintain the property’s popularity.

He doesn’t worry about the mortgage, as a state-sponsored athlete, his salary is sufficient to cover the monthly payments. Moreover, by 2017, Zhang Jue is about to become a wealthy individual.

At this moment, regardless of who it was, they regarded this particular regional competition as no different from the usual ones. However, as they sat on the bus to the venue, they were immediately surprised by the atmosphere outside the arena.

As they entered the venue through the athlete’s tunnel, dozens of ice skating fans crowded on both sides of the gate, eagerly gazing at the road. There were even several reporters holding equipment nearby.

What was going on?

Just then, someone screamed: “He’s here!”

Zhang Jue turned around and saw an SUV parked behind them. The 24-year-old European men’s singles champion, the pride of Italian figure skating, Mr. Maquen, stepped out of the car.

Flashlights lit up, girls screamed, and fans rushed forward to express their admiration. Maquen skillfully signed autographs and took photos with them, appearing no different from the stars Zhang Jue had encountered in the entertainment industry before.

The difference might be that the fan base here is slightly smaller, but the age range is more diverse, with fans of all ages, making it seem like everyone really likes Maquen. In contrast, the artist Zhang Jue encountered before either had only female fans, male fans, or young female fans who were still in school.

For instance, Zhang Jue’s main competitor, Yun Si, has a fan base mainly consisting of young girls and CP (Couple Pairing) fans. Some are attracted to Yun Si’s wealthy family background and high educational achievements.

Zhang Jue’s manager told him that Yun Si’s family is indeed wealthy, and the admission to that foreign university is somewhat related to money, with lower prestige compared to the university Zhang Jue got into. Unfortunately, Zhang Jue had to drop out and work to support his uncle Zhang Junbao’s liver cancer treatment. Otherwise, there would be no one in the show “Dream Boys 307” who could compete with Zhang Jue’s educational background.

Zhang Jue’s manager was named Bai Xiao Zhen, only 6 years older than Zhang Jue. Due to his fair and delicate appearance, he was nicknamed “Xiao Bai Lian” or “Bai Niang Zi.” Zhang Jue simply calls him Brother Bai.

Returning to the scene, Maquen’s fan base is not only diverse but also friendly. Some visibly older aunties, probably in their fifties or sixties, were particularly affectionate. One of them even knitted a handmade sweater and gave it to Maquen, who immediately took off his jacket and put it on, hugging and showing affection to them.

The scene was genuinely friendly and heartwarming.

Shen Liu couldn’t help but smile and told Zhang Jue: “Maquen is known as a gentleman in the industry. His parents are both professors at the top-ranked university in Italy. He studied medicine in college, and since the junior level, he has been praised for his high emotional intelligence and good upbringing. For a while, he was everyone’s favorite child according to the coaches. His senior, on the other hand, disliked him.”

During his military service, Zhang Junbao smoked, drank, fought, and wrote numerous self-reflections. Zhang Jue’s reaction to his uncle revealing his “dark history” was amusing, prompting Shen Liu to say: “Telling my nephew about my dark past is quite interesting, isn’t it?”

Shen Liu remembered the rumors about Zhang Junbao having a fight with a tall basketball team member and both ending up in the hospital. He firmly replied: “No!”

Suddenly, there were exclamations from the side. When everyone looked, they found that Elena, the third-ranked Italian women’s singles skater, had also arrived. She had thick brown curls, a beautiful face, and at that moment, a male fan was proposing to her with a rose. Security quickly came to remove the person.

“They are the most popular athletes in this event. Elena is the most beautiful in the women’s singles, and she signed an endorsement deal with a high-end cosmetic brand last year, entering the top 100 in Forbes’ athlete rankings.”

Shen Liu patted Zhang Jue’s head, saying: “Welcome to the adult world. By the way, I remind you, no going out of the hotel at night. If someone in the hotel tries to take you to a room or take you out to play, you must not follow, understand?”

Zhang Junbao tugged at him, and when Zhang Jue walked ahead, he overheard the intermittent conversation between his uncle and Shen Liu.

“Why did you tell him…?”

“He’s fifteen now, and in Europe and America, it’s open… I definitely have to remind him… What if he gets taken advantage of by some playboys?”

Zhang Jue didn’t catch their entire conversation. At this moment, he still thought that the only difference between the adult and junior categories was popularity. However, when he planned to go for a swim in the pool at night, he saw Elena and a male skater kissing in the pool.

Seeing their reluctant separation, Zhang Jue felt that if he continued watching, there might be explicit scenes, so he voluntarily retreated. Just then, he noticed Maquen leaning against the wall. There was also a female partner from a second-tier American ice dance pair beside him.

The child blinked and explained softly: “I, I didn’t see anything, and I’ll keep it a secret.”

Maquen waved gently: “It’s okay, this is common. But now, the underage little cutie should go back to sleep.”

The ice dance partner smiled and pushed Zhang Jue back, saying: “You haven’t reached the age to enjoy the nightlife. Go back, little cutie.”

Following this force, Zhang Jue turned around, finally realizing something.

In his mature heart, Zhang Jue exclaimed: “Wow, so this is what they mean by being open?” No wonder Shen Liu had warmed him earlier.


Support translation:

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