On Jan. 7, 14-year-old figure skater You Young surpassed the 200-point mark in a national championship for the first time since Kim Yu-na, a retired figure skater who won gold and silver medals in the Vancouver and Sochi Olympics, respectively. You Young, dubbed a “Figure Skating Prodigy,” placed first in the Korea national figure skating championship. Many fans have high hopes that You Young will represent South Korea successfully like Kim Yu-na in future international competitions.
“Receiving a score over 200 points is an incredible feat in skating,” said Helaine Lee (11), figure skater. “It means the skater not only delivered a clean program but also scored well in each element the competition requires along with high artistic points. Even if a skater delivers a clean program, if the elements are executed without proficiency, then the skater will not be able to score well.”
Figure skating has been a major wintertime sports interest for Koreans, which can be largely credited to Kim Yu-na’s successes in multiple figure skating competitions. Since the retirement of Kim Yu-na, few figure skaters have risen up to her level of prominence. However, You Young has recently been attracting comparisons between her and Kim Yu-na, especially since her high-scoring performance. You Young’s performance, which received 204.68 points, has been the second highest ever in the history of South Korean figure skating. The only person to defeat this score has been Kim Yu-na, who received 228.56 points in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
“In Korea, the Korean Skating Union divides each skater into levels based on their ranks,” Helaine said. “Korea has a ranking system from one to eight, where skaters in the first rank are the best. Skaters have to pass exams to raise their rank. In competitions, especially the large ones, most participants are from the highest rank, and placing well in these competitions is an incredible feat.”
In the national championship, You Young skated to the soundtrack of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” and wore a pirate outfit. She began with the Triple Lutz technique, which requires the figure skater to jump and spin in the air. Later in the show, she successfully displayed several Triple Loop techniques and Double Toe Loop techniques, which all require the figure skater to jump flawlessly in many different ways.
“I enjoyed watching Kim Yu-na’s performances, but I have not heard a lot about You Young,” said Daniel Lee (10), figure skating fan. “Due to Kim Yu-na’s extreme popularity, there will be constant comparisons between any new rising figure skater and her. No matter how good You Young is, people will continue to think that Kim Yu-na was better because of the fixed perception of Kim Yu-na’s prominence.”
While many fans have hoped for You Young to represent South Korea in the upcoming PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games, the age restriction set by the International Olympic Committee forbids You Young from being selected as one of the representatives for the 2018 Olympics. Six others will be representing South Korea in the ladies’ division of figure skating at PyeongChang.