HOENGSEONG -- Korean mogul skier Choi Jae-woo said Friday that he has "no special feelings" for the upcoming Winter Games, as he emphasized that he'll just put on his usual performance in PyeongChang.
Choi is one of Korea's medal hopefuls. He is currently ranked fourth in the International Ski Federation World Cup rankings.
While fans' eyes will be on Choi, who is looking to become the first Korean away from ice to medal, the 23-year-old said he isn't feeling any pressure.
South Korean mogul skier Choi Jae-woo reacts after finishing his practice run at a ski resort in Hoengseong Country, Gangwon Province, on Feb. 2, 2018.(Yonhap)
"I consider the Olympic Games as just one of the international competitions," Choi said at a media day event at a ski resort in Hoengseong County, Gangwon Province. "I'll just perform like what I did at the other events."
Choi completed a psychology program from the Korea Institute of Sport Science to better control his mentality during the competition. He said thinking more about the Olympic Games, just makes performing more difficult.
"When I look at things like Olympic medals, I get pressure and don't perform well," he said. "Honestly, I don't really feel that the Olympics are just around the corner. I don't even know when my competition really starts."
For Choi, the PyeongChang Games will be his second Olympics. He finished 12th at the Sochi Games four years ago.
"In my first Olympics, I just tried to enjoy the competition, but I picked up a disappointing result at the end," he said. "This time, it'll be different. I've learned many things, earned more experience and had meaningful times."
At Phoenix Snow Park in PyeongChang, where the mogul skiing event will be held, Choi will display tricks like "cork 1080" or his signature "Jae-woo grab" named after him. But Choi said he'll focus on landing.
"I want to finish my runs without a mistake," he said. "Whenever I make mistakes, they all resulted from me thinking that I should do more difficult tricks. But in reality, what really mattered was executing my usual moves and finishing without a mistake."
Choi is coached by Toby Dawson, a Korean-American who won the bronze medal in moguls at the 2006 Torino Winter Games. Choi said Dawson's advice for him is simple: "Just ski your run."
"In the past, I couldn't understand what he meant," he said. "I thought I need to do something better or change something to get good results. But it turned out that I was wrong."
Choi said everything is going as he planned. For the PyeongChang Olympics, Choi and the other three mogul skiers are not going to the athletes' village. Instead, they will all stay at a resort near the competition venue.
"It takes about 40 minutes to travel between the athletes' village and the competition venue," he said. "We all thought going to the village will not help us. I'm pleased with how things are going."(Yonhap)