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[BEIJING OLYMPICS] Figure skater You Young shrugs off Russian's reported doping, keeps focus on self

By Yonhap

Published : Feb. 10, 2022 - 13:18

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South Korean figure skater You Young trains at a practice rink near Capital Indoor Stadium in Beijing on Thursday, in preparation for the Beijing Winter Olympics. (Yonhap) South Korean figure skater You Young trains at a practice rink near Capital Indoor Stadium in Beijing on Thursday, in preparation for the Beijing Winter Olympics. (Yonhap)

BEIJING -- South Korean figure skater You Young is so locked in on her own pursuit of a medal in China -- to a degree that she had a decidedly nonchalant reaction to one of the most shocking stories to come out of Beijing 2022 so far.

Kamila Valieva, a Russian teen sensation and the prohibitive gold medal favorite in the women's singles, has tested positive for a banned substance, Russian media reported Thursday. If Valieva, who helped the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) to gold in the team competition, is disqualified from the individual event, it will open the doors for fringe medal contenders like You.But the 17-year-old South Korean said Thursday she wasn't paying any mind to what was going on with other skaters

"I didn't come here to compete against Russian skaters. I am here to show everything that I've worked for and to make sure I won't have any regrets at the end," You said after her first training session at a practice rink next to Capital Indoor Stadium in Beijing. "It'd be a shame if Russian skaters can't participate, but I am just going to prepare for my own performances."

You is one of two South Korean women in the singles competition, alongside Kim Ye-lim, who is scheduled to arrive in Beijing on Friday. You won the two-stage South Korean Olympic trials handily but stumbled a bit in her last competition before the Olympics, the International Skating Union (ISU) Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in Estonia in late January.

In the short program there, You under-rotated her triple axel and landed on both feet, en route to finishing fourth with 67.86 points. Then in the free skate, You fell trying to land the triple axel and then under-rotated a double axel before falling on the ensuing triple toe loop attempt. She only posted the seventh-best free skate score with 130.70 and finished sixth overall at 198.56.

In sum, You had one of her worst performances of the season some two weeks before the Olympics.

Figure skating is increasingly becoming a numbers game, with technically advanced athletes, including Valieva, vying to see who attempts more difficult jumps and who scores more points. For You, who doesn't attempt a quadruple jump, her execution of a triple axel can mean the difference between winning a medal or missing the podium.

In her first time on ice in the Chinese capital, You attempted six triple axels and landed half of them. She later said she practiced all of her planned jumps for the short program and free skate.

"I am trying to be as close to perfect as I can be," she said. "I am paying attention to small details of all of my elements."

South Korea's male singles skater, Cha Jun-hwan, is scheduled to perform his free skate later Thursday. Cha set a new personal best score with 99.51 points to rank fourth in Tuesday's short program, and has an outside shot at grabbing a medal. No South Korean male figure skater has ever reached an Olympic podium.

You said she enjoyed watching Cha skate but added she didn't want to put extra pressure on herself to try to match Cha's performance.

"I'll keep my own expectations low and try to stay relaxed," You said. "I should be able to have a clean skate that way."

You has been one of South Korea's top figure skaters since winning the national championship as an 11-year-old. She wasn't quite old enough to be eligible for the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea's PyeongChang, and still just 17, she will finally get her first taste of the Olympics.

"Everything around me is new," You said of her "Welcome to the Olympics" moments. "It's an honor to be here. I am grateful for every moment that I spend here. I will try to savor this experience." (Yonhap)