Ex-natl. figure skating champ headed to final Olympic qualifying event

By Catherine Chung
  • Published : Jul 30, 2017 - 17:00
  • Updated : Jul 30, 2017 - 17:00
Former South Korean national figure skating champion Lee June-hyoung is headed to the final Olympic qualifying event.

Lee, a three-time South Korean champion, won the men's singles title at the Figure Skating Korea Challenge with 228.72 points on Sunday at Mokdong Ice Rink in Seoul. After finishing first in Saturday's short program with 77.72 points, Kim, 20, scored 151.09 points in free skate on Sunday.

Kim Jin-seo finished second with 223.49 points. Cha Jun-hwan, a 15-year-old phenom and a favorite to win the competition, ranked a distant third with 206.92 points.

South Korean figure skater Lee June-hyoung performs his free skate at the Figure Skating Korea Challenge at Mokdong Ice Rink in Seoul on July 30, 2017. (Yonhap)

By virtue of winning this event, Lee will compete at the Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany in September, the last Olympic qualifying competition where six tickets to PyeongChang will be up for grabs.

South Korea has already secured two Olympic berths in the ladies' singles after Choi Da-bin finished 10th at the world championships earlier this year. But in the men's singles at the same world championships, Kim Jin-seo finished 26th after the short program and failed to even qualify for free skate.

Skaters finishing in the top two at the world championships bring home three Olympic tickets, while those ranked from third to 10th each earn two Olympic berths for their countries.

The Figure Skating Korea Challenge doubled as the first round of the Olympic trials for next year's PyeongChang Winter Games. The Korea Skating Union will hold another qualifying competition in December, and then the national championships in January will be the third and final event for Olympic hopefuls.

In Sunday's free skate, Lee performed a conservative program without a quadruple jump, while his two rivals, Kim and Cha, self-destructed with mistakes on their jumps.

Cha, in particular, failed to land his quadruple salchow cleanly and under-rotated his triple axel later in the program. (Yonhap)