Pyeongchang 2018

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Classy Kim and a duel to savour – five reasons to follow figure skating in PyeongChang

PARK CITY, UT - SEPTEMBER 25:  Figure Skater Nathan Chen poses for a portrait during the Team USA Media Summit ahead of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games on September 25, 2017 in Park City, Utah.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)|SAITAMA, JAPAN - OCTOBER 07: Evgenia Medvedeva of Russia reacts during the figure skating Japan Open at Saitama Super Arena on October 7, 2017 in Saitama, Japan.  (Photo by Takashi Aoyama/Getty Images)

Figure skating is usually one of the most eagerly anticipated events at the Olympic Winter Games. The 2018 competition promises to be particularly special. Here’s why…

1. Yuna Kim

The fact that the Republic of Korea has fallen in love with figure skating is largely down to one woman: Yuna Kim. When she won the Olympic title at Vancouver 2010, Kim captivated an entire nation. She is widely recognised as one of the finest figure skaters of all time and many of the new generation, such as American Ashley Wagner, have cited her as an inspiration. When Kim retired after winning silver at Sochi 2014, she became a bid ambassador for PyeongChang 2018. Many believe her presence as a delegate was key to the city winning the Games.

2. Yuzuru Hanyu v Nathan Chen

Reigning champion Yuzuru Hanyu goes into PyeongChang as favourite for gold – but a young pretender is snapping at the Japanese star’s heels. Hanyu, 22, is the double world champion and still number one in the world. But 18-year-old American Nathan Chen (above) beat him into silver at the Rostelecom Cup in October and is improving all the time. The duel between the duo promises to be one of the highlights of PyeongChang 2018.

A post shared by Nathan Chen (@nathanwchen) on

3. Quads

Quads are key in figure skating – and we’re not talking about the muscles in the skaters’ legs. They’re basically a jump with four revolutions and Chen created history in January when he became the first skater to land five of them in competition, at the US Championships. The American then repeated the feat a month later at the Four Continents in Gangneung, South Korea. Timothy Goebel, the Olympic bronze medallist from Salt Lake City 2002, said: “He [Chen] is head and shoulders superior, in my opinion, to anyone in the world.” Not to be outdone, Hanyu has now incorporated four quads into his routine for the first time.

4. North Korea

To the uninitiated, it may have seemed insignificant when Ryom Tae-Ok and Kim Ju-Sik won one of the final qualifying spots available at the Nebelhorn Trophy in September. But they were the first North Korean competitors to secure a place at the 2018 Games. With tensions rising on the Korean Peninsula, the IOC was very keen for this to happen.

5. Evgenia Medvedeva

Russia’s participation in the Games is still in the balance, but we couldn’t go without mentioning Evgenia Medvedeva. If she makes it to PyeongChang Medvedeva will be a strong favourite for gold. She is undefeated in two years, a double world champion and the world record holder. A combination of artistry, athleticism and technical skill have made the Russian unstoppable her emergence in 2015.

 

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