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Lee Hae-in is ‘spring of Korean figure skating’

Posted March. 27, 2023 07:42,   

Updated March. 27, 2023 07:42


Kim Yuna, also known as the "Queen of figure skating," retired in 2014 after winning a silver medal at the Sochi Winter Olympics. However, her contributions to Korean figure skating are now bearing fruit this year after nearly a decade.

Lee Hae-in (18, Sehwa Girls' High School), one of 'Yuna Kids,' earned a silver medal with a score of 220.94 points (73.62 points in the short program and 147.32 points in the free skate) at the 2023 International Ice Skating Union (ISU) Figure Skating World Championships on Friday at the Saitama Super Arena in Japan. She was slightly behind Japan's gold medalist Kaori Sakamoto, who scored 224.61 points.

This is the first time in more than a decade that a South Korean athlete has won a medal at the Figure World Championships since Kim Yuna. Kim won six medals (two golds, two silvers, and two bronzes) at the World Championships. Her last medal was a gold medal at the 2013 World Championships.

Lee also recently claimed a gold medal at the ISU Four Continents Championships, scoring 210.84 points. She was the first South Korean athlete to reach the podium in 14 years. Lee's passion for figure skating was ignited at nine when she watched Kim's ice show and was inspired to pursue the sport.

In addition to Lee, Kim Ye-rim (20, Dankook University) and Yoo Young (19, Suri High School) have consistently performed well on the world stage. After finishing ninth at the Beijing Olympics last year, Kim won gold at the NHK Trophy, the fifth ISU Grand Prix event of the year. It was the first time a South Korean woman had won a Grand Prix event since Kim Yuna. At the Four Continents Championships last month, Kim took silver behind Lee Hae-in. Although she has struggled this season, Yoo also finished fifth at last year's World Championships, the best finish since Kim Yuna.

Heon-Jae Lee uni@donga.com