The Korea Herald


World junior figure skating champion Seo Min-kyu trying to stay humble

By Yonhap

Published : March 4, 2024 - 19:18

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After returning to Korea on Monday, South Korean figure skater Seo Min-kyu answers reporters' questions at the Incheon International Airport. (Yonhap) After returning to Korea on Monday, South Korean figure skater Seo Min-kyu answers reporters' questions at the Incheon International Airport. (Yonhap)

South Korean teenager Seo Min-kyu shocked the figure skating world Saturday, winning the men's singles title at the World Junior Figure Skating Championships in Taipei in his first appearance.

The 15-year-old became the first South Korean man to win a medal of any color at the world juniors, and the first South Korean skater, male or female, to win a world junior title since Kim Yu-na won the women's singles gold medal in 2006.

Seo, who returned from Taipei City on Monday, insisted he won't let his accomplishment go to his head.

"I am not going to be complacent just because I've won this medal," Seo told reporters at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul. "I believe that if I stick to my foundation and keep working hard, I will continue to have great results."

Seo won his breakthrough gold medal with 230.75 points, 1.44 better than Rio Nakata of Japan.

Seo had the best short program score with 80.58 points and had the second-highest free skate score with 150.17 points, 1.54 back of Nakata.

"Before the competition, I figured I'd be happy to finish in the top three," Seo said. "But after winning the short program, I felt I could win the gold medal with a clean free skate."

Seo did not have a clean program, though, as he under-rotated a planned triple axel. He still hung on for the narrow win over Nakata.

"I was nervous while waiting for the score because I didn't have a perfect performance and I wasn't sure if it would be good enough for the gold," Seo said. "I will try to address my shortcomings for the next competition."

Seo said his mistake wasn't due to any nerves.

"It was so late in the season that I was so exhausted. I just wanted to get this over with and go home as soon as I could," Seo said with a smile.

He said he will need to sharpen his triple axel. He didn't initially put the jump in his short program earlier in the season but decided to include it for the world juniors, so that he would give himself a higher base score.

Next up for Seo will be to complete a quadruple jump.

"I will try to improve my strength during the offseason," he said. "I will also try to find a quadruple jump that I can execute and make sure I can land it successfully."

Kim Yu-na, the 2010 Olympic champion who added silver at the next Olympics in 2014, inspired a generation of female figure skaters in South Korea. But the talent pipeline on the men's side has been relatively barren, with Cha Jun-hwan, the 2023 world senior silver medalist, being the only one with a decent track record in recent years. Seo has come out of nowhere ready to follow in Cha's footsteps.

"I still can't believe I am the first Korean man to win the world junior title," Seo said. "I am proud of having made history."

Seo has been following a unique development path. Whereas most figure skaters train in Seoul or spend months at a time working out in a foreign country, Seo has chosen to stay home in Daegu, some 240 kilometers southeast of Seoul.

"Just because you train in Seoul, it doesn't mean you're going to perform well," Seo said. "I think it's really up to how hard you work." (Yonhap)