Cha Jun-hwan finishes short program in fourth place
Cha Jun-hwan finished fourth in the men's figure skating short program on Tuesday, recording his personal-best while countryman Lee Si-hyeong rounded off the first stage of his first Games in 27th position.
Cha had a clean run on Tuesday, receiving an element score of 54.30 and a component score of 45.21, to total a personal best 99.51 in the short program.
Cha’s previous personal best was set just two weeks ago at the Four Continents, where he won Korea’s first-ever men’s gold medal and scored 98.96 in the short program.
Cha performed to ‘Fate of the Clockmaker’ by Eternal Eclipse at both the Four Continents and Olympics.
Cha started off with a clean quadruple salchow and also succeeded in his next two jumps, a triple axel and a triple lutze triple toe combination, lining himself up for a high element score.
His clean run put him in fourth place, behind leader Nathan Chen of the United States, Yuma Kagiyama and Shoma Uno of Japan. The top three skaters all had two quad jumps on their program, while Cha only had one, meaning that he received the highest score for the level of his program.
Figure skaters perform two separate routines — short program and free skate — with medals awarded by tallying the two scores after both routines have been completed. The men's free skate will be held on Thursday.
“I think my run went well,” Cha said in a post-performance interview. “I tried to enjoy it as much as I could. Of course I was nervous but I think I did okay.
“Before coming on the ice today, I thought about what I really wanted. What I wanted was to really enjoy this experience more than anything because the Olympics only comes around once every four years. So if I get to reach my personal best in my free skating program like I did today, I think that will lead to good results in the ranks too.”
Lee rounded off his first Olympic performance with an element score of 30.75 and component score of 35.94 for a total of 65.69, finishing 27th out of 29 skaters.
Lee started his program landing a quadruple salchow slightly unstably, then landed his triple axel, but missed a quarter rotation. For his third jump, the triple lutz triple toe combination, Lee fell on his back, leading to a low grade for execution and a deduction for the fall.
Visibly shaken from his previous error in the third jump, Lee was unable to fully recover for the rest of his program, receiving low marks for his following step sequence.
This was the first time that Korea has sent two male skaters to the Olympics, but with only the top 24 skaters advancing to the free skate, Cha is the only Korean left in the competition.
In the women’s program next week, You Young and Kim Ye-lim will be representing Korea at their first ever Olympics. Cha is the only of the four to have appeared at the Olympics before. At the 2018 PyeongChang Games, Cha finished 15th, becoming the youngest-ever skater to compete in the men’s event.
BY YUN SO-HYANG [email@example.com]