The Korea Herald


Host S. Korea grabs 2 gold medals on final day of Winter Youth Olympics

By Yonhap

Published : Feb. 1, 2024 - 20:20

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From left: South Korean figure skating players Shin Ji-a, Kim Hyeon-gyum, Kim Jinny and Lee Namu celebrate the gold medal, Thursday. (Yonhap) From left: South Korean figure skating players Shin Ji-a, Kim Hyeon-gyum, Kim Jinny and Lee Namu celebrate the gold medal, Thursday. (Yonhap)

South Korea picked up two gold medals on the final day of the Winter Youth Olympics on home soil Thursday, producing a pair of double gold medalists in the process.

South Korea captured the gold medal in figure skating's team event at Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung, some 160 kilometers east of Seoul, over the United States and Canada.

South Korea earned 13 points, with a victory in each discipline worth five points. The U.S. had 12 points and Canada finished with nine.

Kim, who won the men's singles gold medal Monday, led the five skaters in the team event with 136.38 points.

Shin Ji-a, the silver medalist in the women's singles on Tuesday, added five points by coming out on top among five female skaters with her personal-best 137.48 points.

South Korea earned three points from ice dance, where Kim Jinny and Lee Namu finished third with 82.15 points.

With the women's singles being the last leg of the team event, South Korea's fate hinged on Shin's performance.

Shin admitted later she felt the pressure of having the color of the team's medal come down to her skate, but the lesson learned from her individual event helped her a great deal.

During Tuesday's free skate, Shin received zero points on her change foot combination spin, a rarity for a skater of her caliber, en route to taking the silver behind Mao Shimada of Japan.

On Thursday, Shin earned the full "Level 4" for the same spin element, and also scored high points on all of her jumps.

"I learned so much from the individual event. I figured out which aspects of my skate to really zone in on, and that helped me post such a great score," Shin said. "I was able to enjoy my skate out there because my teammates were really supportive."

Kim Hyun-gyeom became South Korea's first double gold medalist at Gangwon 2024. Then moments later, snowboarder Lee Chae-un joined him.

Lee won the men's halfpipe gold medal at Welli Hilli Park Ski Resort in Hoengseong, just west of Gangneung, with 88.50 points. He had earlier won the men's slopestyle gold medal last Thursday.

Lee pulled out of the big air event Saturday with an ankle injury. Although the injury was considered minor, Lee skipped the big air competition so that he could focus on the halfpipe, his main event. And he came through with the very last gold medal for the host country.

The 10 snowboarders in the final each had three runs, and their best score out of the three became their final score.

Lee led the field with 87.25 points after the first run, and he outdid himself with 88.50 points in the next run.

Lee clinched his gold medal even before performing his third run, as the boarders in front of him couldn't match Lee's highest score in their last run.

Alessandro Barbieri of the U.S. got the silver medal with 84.75 points and Ryusei Yamada of Japan earned bronze with 83.00 points.

Lee came into Gangwon 2024 as a huge gold medal favorite in the halfpipe. He won the senior world title in that event last March and added a World Cup bronze medal in December.

"I am so happy to have put on a good show in front of Korean fans," Lee said. "I wasn't entirely happy with my score. I wanted to test my limits in my third run but I didn't quite get it done. But I am still pleased."

Lee, 17, has established himself as an early medal contender at the 2026 Winter Games in Italy.

"I'd love to win a gold medal at the senior Olympics," Lee said. "I think I should be able to build on my experience here and do well at the Olympics without feeling nervous. I want to keep improving."

The teenager also said, beyond winning an Olympic medal, he wants to become synonymous with his sport, a la snowboarding legend Shaun White.

"I want to reach a point where people will utter my name, instead of Shaun White, when they think of snowboarding," Lee said.

South Korea finished the Winter Youth Olympics with seven gold medals, six silver medals and four bronze medals. (Yonhap)