With solid performance, S. Korea's ice dance pair sets sights on PyeongChang Olympics
By Joo Kyung-don
GANGNEUNG, South Korea, Feb. 17 (Yonhap) -- After a solid performance at an International Skating Union (ISU) competition here, South Korea's figure skating pair Min Yu-ra and Alexander Gamelin said Friday they really want to compete in front of home crowds at the Winter Olympics next year.
Min and Gamelin, who have been skating together since 2015, finished eighth among 16 ice dance teams at the ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, some 230 kilometers east of Seoul. The ISU competition, open to non-Europeans, is one of the test events for the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics.
"We received a lot of energy from home crowds even when our names were announced," Min said. "Since the PyeongChang Olympics is going to be here, we expect lots of support from fans. We're so excited."
Min and Gamelin were also eighth last year, but this time they had a better score, improving 6.27 points from 2016 to finish with 144.69 points Friday.
"Last year, we didn't have enough preparations because we had little time skating together," Min said. "But this year, we prepared well. We wanted to get a better result than last year, but other teams skated better this time. We're satisfied with the result today."
Min and Gamelin were eighth in Thursday's short dance after collecting 59.01 points. In free dance, the couple earned 85.68 points, which was far behind their career best score of 92.13. However, they said it was still meaningful.
"This is a bigger competition than the one we got our personal best score (at)," Gamelin. "To have scores like that, I think it's just good for us."
The couple, who skated ninth in order, were briefly the leading group in ice dance until the remaining seven teams took the ice at Gangneung Ice Arena. They were also invited to the "green room," where top skaters wait and watch others skate before heading to the podium.
"It was a good experience," Gamelin said. "It was nice to be there with the top teams and to show that we can compete with them, too."
Gamelin is an American citizen, but is seeking naturalization to compete at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics next year with Min.
At ISU competitions, as long as one member of a tandem is South Korean, that duo can compete under the South Korean flag. At the Olympics, however, both members of a team must be South Korean citizens to represent the country.
Their next task is to perform well next month at the World Championships in Helsinki, where the Olympic spots are at stake. It will be the tandem's debut at the worlds.
Min and Gamelin said there are still lots of things to improve in their performance, but the only way to reach the next level is just to work harder.
"I think our technical elements score is high, but since our program component score is low, we need to practice more on that," Min said. "I know there are going to be stronger teams at the worlds, but we just have to skate our best and not to be too nervous about it."
South Korea's figure skating pair Min Yu-ra (R) and Alexander Gamelin wait for their score in the ice dance free dance program after performing at the ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, on Feb. 17, 2017. (Yonhap)