Young You (KOR) competes in the women's short program during the 2021 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating - NHK Trophy in Tokyo (JPN) @GettyImages
2010 Olympic Champion Yuna Kim was a trailblazer for Korean Figure Skating. She was the first Korean Figure Skater to win medals at ISU Championships and crowned her unique career with Olympic gold in 2010 and Olympic silver in 2014. Her example inspired many young Skaters in the country that we see competing today.
Yuna Kim (KOR) celebrates winning the gold medal in the Women Free Skating during the medal ceremony during the 2010 Vancouver Olympics Winter Games in Vancouver (CAN) @GettyImages
Young You, who lived in Singapore as a child, once started skating after watching Kim. “I wanted to learn how to skate after watching Yuna Kim on TV,” she said. “For the first year, it was just a hobby for me, but then I returned to Korea to train properly.” You’s exceptional talent led her to early success. She made headlines when she won the Korean National Championships in 2016 at the tender age of 11, even beating Kim’s record, who was one year older when she won her first title.
11-year-old You Young (KOR) gives a press conference following a local competition in Bundang, south of Seoul (KOR) @GettyImages
However, the Skater experienced some ups and downs and finished off the podium in her two appearances at the ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships in 2018 and 2019. You’s career picked up again when she moved up to the senior-level and won the bronze medal in her debut at the ISU Grand Prix Skate Canada in 2019.
Young You (KOR) places second in the Women short program during the 2019 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating in Kelowna (CAN) @International Skating Union (ISU)
In 2020, she celebrated her biggest success so far when she claimed silver at the ISU Four Continents Championships 2020 on home ice in Seoul. It was a special moment for her when Yuna Kim presented her with gifts at the medal ceremony.
So it’s 🥇 in Seoul 🇰🇷 for Rika Kihira 🇯🇵. Young You 🇰🇷 (in the video) takes 🥈, Bradie Tennell 🇺🇸 🥉. Full results 👇👇👇— ISU Figure Skating (@ISU_Figure) February 8, 2020
#️⃣ #4ContsFigure #FigureSkating pic.twitter.com/Ngzhe3GmnZ
“It was a surprise for me and I was very excited that my idol gave us the mascots and that I got a medal. It means a lot to me,” Young recalled. “Yuna helped me a lot before. She worked with me on choreography and skating skills.”
For the 2020 Youth Olympic Games Champion, skating is much more than performing difficult elements – and she can do a triple Axel. “I like to tell a story to the audience and the judges and I like that Figure Skating is passionate, emotional and difficult.”
You has been training in Canada, in the USA and Japan, but due to the pandemic she remained most of the time in Korea with limited training options before she was able to return to Colorado Springs end of 2020. The 17-year-old had a very successful start into the Olympic season, claiming bronze at the ISU Grand Prix events Skate America and NHK Trophy and reclaiming her national title.
Haein Lee (KOR) competes in the Women Free Skating during the 2021 ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Stockholm (SWE) @International Skating Union (ISU)
Lee was successful at the junior level, qualified for the ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final 2018/19 and finished 10th in her debut at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships 2021. Kim as well was a ISU Junior Grand Prix Finalist and placed 11th in her World Championships debut in 2021.
Yelim Kim (KOR) competes in the Women Short Program during the 2021 ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Stockholm (SWE) @International Skating Union (ISU)
Young and Kim also have been selected to represent Korea at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games.
The East-Asian country not only has strong competitors in the Women’s but also in the Men’s. Junhwan Cha is following in Yuna Kim’s footsteps as well, making history for the Korean male Skaters. He is the first Korean man to win medals at the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating and to qualify for the Final in the 2018/19 season, where he claimed bronze. The 2018 Olympian looked up to Kim as well and moved to Canada in 2014 to train with coach Brian Orser, who led Kim to Olympic gold in 2010.
Bronze medalist Junhwan Cha (KOR) poses after the medal ceremony for the Men's event during the 2021 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating - NHK Trophy in Tokyo (JPN) @International Skating Union (ISU)
However, the pandemic affected him as well. He returned to Korea in early 2020 and trained there most of the time by himself. Due to the time difference it is even difficult to arrange online sessions with Orser, who is based in Toronto. “I had almost no lessons with Brian (on Zoom). Only athletes and coaches can come into the rink in Korea and I have nobody to take a video. Sometimes I can ask another trainer and I can send the video to Brian and we talk about it. When I am training by myself, I wish I had someone telling me what was right, but I just tried to believe in myself and keep training hard.“
Junhwan Cha (KOR) waves as he waits his score with his coach Brian Orser after competing in the Men's Free Skating during the 2021 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating - NHK Trophy in Tokyo (JPN) @International Skating Union (ISU)
Nevertheless, Cha started his season with a sixth-place finish at the Asian Open Trophy, the Olympic test event and a fifth place at the ISU Grand Prix Gran Premio d’Italia before returning on to the Grand Prix podium at NHK Trophy, where he earned the bronze. “I am satisfied that I am going up slowly again. I still need more things to work on, but the NHK Trophy was a really good experience for me and I found my confidence again,” the 20-year-old shared.
Cha is talented not only on the ice. He was a child actor and appeared in movies and commercials. More recently he performed as a singer in the Korean show “King of Masked Singer”.
>29.06.20< [INFO] El patinador artístico 'Cha Junhwan' interpretó la canción 'ON' de #BTS en el último episodio de King of Masked singer.#BTS @BTS_twt @bts_bighit #BTSARMY— BTS Arg (@RiseOnBangtanAr) June 29, 2020
Cr: Bangtan_india//via: BTS_Noticia//@RiseOnBangtanAr pic.twitter.com/95u2VcyzIy
Cha’s teammate Siyheong Lee who secured a second Olympic quota spot for Korea at the Olympic qualifying event Nebelhorn Trophy last September is also coming to Tallinn. Both Men will compete in Beijing at the Olympic Winter Games.
Sihyeong Lee (KOR) competes in the Men's Short Program during the 2021 Nebelhorn Trophy in Oberstdorf (GER) @International Skating Union (ISU)
Korea has a promising junior dance team as well in Hannah Lim/Ye Quan that won the bronze medal at the ISU Junior Grand Prix in Courchevel this season, becoming the first Korean Ice Dancers to make the podium at the ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating.