Two South Korean freestyle snowboarders said Friday they're working hard to master new skills to impress home fans at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games.
Kweon Lee-jun and Lee Min-sik are two promising snowboarders who will make their Olympic debut in PyeongChang, some 180 kilometers east of Seoul. Both said they've worked to learn new techniques during the offseason and will show all their move at the Olympics.
"Since people pointed out that my backside tricks are weak, I've worked hard on that, and now I'm preparing for combinations," Kweon, who competes in halfpipe, said during a media event in Seoul. "At the Asian Winter Games, I had a shot for the gold medal, but I wasn't good enough to grab that."
South Korean freestyle snowboarders Lee Min-sik (L) and Kweon Lee-jun smile during a media event in Seoul on Nov. 17, 2017. (Yonhap)
Kweon won the silver medal in the men's halfpipe competition at the Asian Winter Games in Sapporo, Japan, in February. The 20-year-old said he is studying the moves of Japanese snowboarder Taku Hiraoka, who won bronze at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
"He is an Asian snowboarder and also a regular-stance rider like me, so there are lots of things to learn from him," Kweon said. "Hiraoka executes skills that are two or three levels higher than mine. I would say the difficulty of our technique is similar, but he goes up higher in the air and makes clean landings."
Kweon, who started snowboarding around age seven, said he is satisfied with facilities at PyeongChang, and expected to have the home field advantage.
"I've heard from many foreign athletes at the Olympic test event that the facilities in PyeongChang are the best," he said. "I didn't really expect the halfpipe facility to be that good, but after riding it, I felt it suits me."
Lee, who will compete in both slopestyle and big air events at the Olympics, said he also has no worries on venue conditions. The 17-year-old, currently a student at Cheongmyeong High School in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, last year competed at PyeongChang's big air test, finishing 34th.
"The size of the man-made slope is really big and it's steep, so it isn't easy," he said. "But it's the best facility that you don't have to worry about speed."
Lee, who started snowboarding after watching the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games, said he has been practicing to improve rotation moves.
"Last season, I could only make three rotations, but now I can execute four rotations in the air," he said. "Snowboarding is a really entertaining discipline, so I'm sure fans will know the essence of the sport at the Olympics." (Yonhap)