North Korea's figure skating pairs team of Ryom Tae-ok and Kim Ju-sik won the bronze medal Friday at the last-minute international rehearsal before the next month's PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
At the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships, held in the Taiwanese capital of Taipei, the duo earned a personal-best total of 184.98 points to finish third. The U.S. team of Tarah Kayne and Danny O'Shea won gold with 194.42 points, followed by another American tandem, Ashley Cain and Timothy Leduc, with 190.61.
Ryom Tae-ok and Kim Ju-sik (Yonhap)
The North Koreans ranked fourth after the short program, held on Wednesday, with 65.25 points, but they advanced to third place overall after earning 119.73 points in free skate, the third-highest total in the segment.
This was the first medal by North Korea at any International Skating Union (ISU) championship. Ryom and Kim finished seventh at the 2016 event.
Their performance will be one of the most keenly-observed events at the Feb. 9-25 PyeongChang Winter Olympics. North Korea will send 22 athletes to the multi-event competition in South Korea.
"After the short program we were fourth and I regretted that and hoped we'd be able to do better in the free," Ryom said at a press conference, according to the ISU's website. "When we came third and got the medal I was very happy."
Kim added, "The Four Continents were a preparation for the Olympic Games for us. We'll participate for the first time in the Olympic Games and we'll train as usual and do what our coach says."
Meanwhile, South Korean team of Kim Kyu-eun and Kam Kang-chan dropped out of the event due to an injury. (Yonhap)