The race toward the ‘post-Kim Yu-na’, which had been stagnant for a while, is in an atmosphere that is reviving.
Even until the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, Yoo Young (19, Suri High School) and Kim Ye-rim (20, Dankook University), the atmosphere was narrowed down to a two-way match. However, as Hae-in Lee (18, Sehwa Girls’ High School) performed well at the Four Continents Championships and jumped into the race, the competition ignited.
Lee Hae-in won the championship with a total score of 210.84 in the women’s singles competition that ended on the 11th at the Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs, USA. It was the first time in 14 years for a Korean female single player to win the Four Continents Championships since “Figure Skating Queen” Yuna Kim (her retirement) in 2009. Lee Hae-in won her first gold medal at an International Skating Union (ISU) major senior event.
This is not the first time Lee Hae-in has succeeded Kim Yuna. In September 2009, when she was only 14 years old, she won the 3rd and 6th ISU Junior Grand Prix in a row, advancing to the Grand Prix Final. At the time, it was the first time in 14 years that a Korean female athlete won two consecutive Junior Grand Prix events after Kim Yuna in 2005. At the 2021 ISU World Championships, which was her senior debut, she came in 10th, even setting a record for ‘top 10 youngest world championships in Korean figure skating’.
However, she was frustrated ahead of ‘the stage of her dreams’, the Olympics. She placed only 6th in the first round of the national team selection and did not make up for it in the second round. At the time, Lee Hae-in said, “I risked my life for this Olympics.”
Effortless Lee Hae-in finished runner-up at the 2022 Four Continents Championships with her personal best score (213.52), and ranked 7th at the World Championships last March, entering the top 10. And at the Four Continents Championships, he regained his confidence by standing on top. Lee Hae-in, who returned to Korea on the 14th, said, “I heard that I was full of energy from the beginning to the end. She told me that if Yuna could adjust her dynamics, she would get better at the program. She also said that her gaze was not correct, so I tried to make up for it.”
With Lee Hae-in joining in, her Korean figure skating women’s singles are starting to come alive again. At the World Championships held in Saitama, Japan in March, attention is focused on the performance of Lee Hae-in and Kim Ye-rim. 안전놀이터
Yerim Kim, who confirmed her prowess on the world stage with her ninth place at the Beijing Olympics, continues her performance steadily. In November of last year, she won her first gold medal at the fifth event of the Grand Prix, earning her a spot in the Finals, her ‘War of the Kings’. Kim Ye-rim, who only won a silver medal at the Four Continents Championships, showed her determination. He said, “Since she has a little bit of regret this time, she has a lot of thoughts that she wants to do well in the next competition. I will do my best to prepare for the rest of her life,” she said.
Yoo-Young, who has been hampered by a recent injury, will not be able to participate in the World Championships, but she has a ‘special move’ triple axel, so if she finds her pace, she is well worth jumping into the ‘post Kim Yu-na’ competition.