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(PyeongChang Prospects) S. Korean alpine skier aims high in his 3rd Olympics

송고시간2018/01/28 11:24

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SEOUL, Jan. 28 (Yonhap) -- For South Korean alpine skier Jung Dong-hyun, the Winter Olympic Games of the past only bring sad memories.

Jung has established himself as the top Asian alpine skier after winning gold medals from two consecutive Asian Winter Games. The 29-year-old, who began skiing at the age of three, started competing internationally in 2004.

Jung, however, hasn't had much luck with the Olympic Games.

Jung was able to compete at the 2006 Torino Olympics, but later had to give up his opportunity after he didn't answer the national team call-up. As a rookie without a full understanding of national team rules, Jung apparently trained separately from the team, which forced the Korea Ski Association to mete out a two-year suspension.

Jung made a national team comeback in 2009 and qualified for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. But just a week away from the Olympics, he suffered a thigh injury. He didn't give up participating in his first Olympics, but wasn't able to complete his race.

At the 2014 Sochi Games, Jung did finish his race in the giant slalom, but ranked 41st among 79 skiers.

In this file photo taken Feb. 25, 2017, South Korean alpine skier Jung Dong-hyun competes in the men's slalom event at the Asian Winter Games in Sapporo, Japan. (Yonhap) In this file photo taken Feb. 25, 2017, South Korean alpine skier Jung Dong-hyun competes in the men's slalom event at the Asian Winter Games in Sapporo, Japan. (Yonhap)

Since then, Jung has been working hard to wash away his sad Olympic memories in PyeongChang, Gangwon Province.

In the 2014-15 season, he became the first South Korean alpine skier to reach the finals at an International Ski Federation (FIS World Cup). Jung had knee surgery in 2015, but it didn't slow down his race on snow.

Last January, he took 14th in the men's slalom event at the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup in Zagreb, Croatia, which still remains the best result by a South Korean. His hot form then led to a gold medal in the slalom event at the Asian Winter Games in Sapporo, Japan, the following month.

But Jung is concerned he hasn't been making good progress at the World Cups this season. He started off the season by finishing 57th in Finland. At the latest World Cup in Schladming, Austria, he did not qualify on his first run.

Jung's best World Cup result of the season was in December 2017 when he took 26th place in Madonna di Campiglio, Italy.

Jung, who will compete in alpine's technical disciplines, slalom and giant slalom, said his goal for the PyeongChang Olympics is to finish inside the top 10. South Korea's best performance in an Olympic alpine skiing event came in 1998, when Hur Seung-Wook finished 21st in the slalom.

Jung, a native of Gangwon Province, said that since the race will be staged on a familiar course where he has been practicing, he will be able to show better results. Slalom and giant slalom events will be held at Yongpyong Alpine Centre in PyeongChang.

"I feel I've narrowed down the gap (with others) after training with world class skiers," he said. "If I continue training systemically, I think I'll have better results."

  

This undated photo shows South Korean alpine skier Jung Dong-hyun. (Yonhap) This undated photo shows South Korean alpine skier Jung Dong-hyun. (Yonhap)

kdon@yna.co.kr

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