Rising South Korean figure skating star Cha Jun-hwan on Thursday unveiled an ambitious plan to add a difficult element to an already challenging program before next year's Winter Olympics at home.
Starting Saturday at Mokdong Ice Rink in Seoul, Cha is scheduled to compete in the Figure Skating Korea Challenge, which will double as the first round of the national team trials for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics. The winner of this event will compete at the Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany in September, the last Olympic qualifying competition where six spots will be up for grabs.
Thanks to a strong 2016-2017 season as a junior, Cha, 15, is considered a favorite this week. During open practice Thursday, Cha unveiled his new short program and free skate.
For now, he will have two quadruple jumps -- the quadruple toe loop and quadruple salchow -- in his free skate, and he plans to add another quad jump to the equation later in the season.
|South Korean figure skater Cha Jun-hwan skates during practice two days before the Figure Skating Korea Challenge at Mokdong Ice Rink in Seoul on July 27, 2017. (Yonhap)|
Cha won two competitions during the International Skating Union (ISU) Junior Grand Prix season, while finishing third at the Junior Grand Prix Final and fifth at the junior worlds. The improving technician did just one quad jump in his free skate last season. Juniors aren't allowed to do any quad jumps in their short programs.
In the free skate at the upcoming competition, Cha will do a quadruple toe loop as his first jump, and will follow that up with a quad salchow-double toe loop combination.
With a tweak, Cha will pull off a quadruple salchow as a solo later in the program.
In the current judging scale, a quad toe loop's base value is 10.3 points, and a quad salchow is worth 10.5 points. The toughest triple jump, the triple axel, is worth 8.5 points.
The key will be to maintain stamina throughout the program that runs for 4 minutes and 30 seconds. Cha, who struggled at times in late stages of his free skate, said he tried to address the issue during this past offseason.
This all hinges on Cha actually qualifying for PyeongChang. And he'll try to do it wearing boots that gave him trouble last season.
He's been taping his boots to keep them tight since January. Cha has yet to find the pair that fits, and said he'll have to do with the current boots.
"It's risky to change boots during the season," Cha said. "I think I'll just wear the current pair for this season and have them taped as necessary." (Yonhap)