4 Olympic figure skating places up for grabs in the final trials on Sunday

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The four figure skaters who will represent South Korea at the Beijing Olympic Winter Games will be determined on Sunday in the final trials for the national team.

The second leg of the two-day Olympic trials opens on Saturday in Uijeongbu, some 20 kilometers north of Seoul, in Gyeonggi province.

Saturday will feature short programs for men and women singles, followed by free programs for both disciplines on Sunday.

South Korea secured two quota places in each of the men’s and women’s singles. The top two skaters in these disciplines based on the combined points of the two rounds of practice will secure their tickets to Beijing next month.

On the men’s side, 2018 Olympian Cha Jun-hwan won the first leg in December with 239.16 points, with Lee Si-hyeong in second place with 237.01 points.

Kyeong Jae-seok is a distant third with 204.64 points, and barring a collapse of epic proportions, Cha and Lee will likely head to Beijing.

Cha, 20, has been South Korea’s top male figure skater for years. He is also the only one in the country to do a quadruple jump with some regularity.

He was the only South Korean representative at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics. The then teenager finished in 15th place, the highest position ever awarded to a South Korean figure skater.

Cha is now on the cusp of qualifying for his second consecutive Olympics. Only two other male figure skaters from South Korea have competed in back-to-back Winter Games.

In women’s singles, You Young (208.59 points) and Kim Ye-lim (205.82 points) occupied the first two places in the first leg of practice.

The next three skaters are all college kids who are not yet old enough for the Olympics. Among the eligible, Lee Hae-in is You and Kim’s closest pursuer with 190.63 points.

You, Kim and Lee are all trying to make their first Olympic Winter Games. Of the trio, You is the most accomplished, with the gold medal at the 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games and the 2020 Four Continents silver medal to her name. Kim won the 2021 national championship and Lee, who has enjoyed a solid junior career, has yet to have much success as a senior at 16. (Yonhap)



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