By Kim Boram
GANGNEUNG, South Korea, Feb. 17 (Yonhap) -- In his first Olympics and second senior competition, 16-year-old Cha Jun-hwan broke his personal high scores both in the short and free programs.
He finished 15th in the men's singles figure skating competition at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics with an overall 248.59 points, marking the highest ranking by a South Korean male skater at an Olympics.
The previous high was a 17th finish by Jung Sung-il at the Lillehammer Olympics in 1994.
Looking at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, however, the Korean skater is well aware of the long way he has to go in order to advance to higher positions in the senior world.
"Last season as a junior, I worked hard on managing quad jumps, and I did them pretty well," Cha said. "But this season, I've suffered an ankle injury and boot problems. I tried to do all these things too fast at the same time."
Cha's score was 69.26 points behind the gold medal winner Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan and 58.31 points short of runner-up Shoma Uno.
He came up with programs that include only one quadruple jump in free skating, while other competitors jumped several quads in both programs. Nathan Chan from the United States jumped six quad jumps in free skating alone. Cha even failed his only quad.
This makes a big difference between Cha and other high-class skaters from the beginning.
Hanyu's quadruple salchow-triple toe loop combination jump in the free program has a base value of 14.8 points, while Cha's triple flip-triple toe loop combination has only 7.6 points as a base grade.
The Japanese star gained an extra 10 percent for jumping it in the latter half of the program and earned 2.77 points in grade of execution (GOE). Hanyu's quad combination jump alone graded him 18.99 points.
Cha included one quadruple salchow, which awarded him 10.5 points in base value, in the free program, but got only 6.5 points as he fell.
He jumped two quad jumps last season and came up with three quads in national qualifiers for the PyeongChang Olympics. But he gave up the new program before the final round of the qualifier because his quads were not consistent enough to promise high scores.
He said he will not be impatient in learning skills and do it one by one and will be a more competitive skater at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.
"I learned a lot from this season. I did my utmost at the Olympics as the PyeongChang Olympics will never come again," said the youngest men's singles figure skater at PyeongChang. "All skaters here have a lot of experience on the senior stage. For me, this is my first year. I'll strive to improve myself in the future."
He is 16 years old and will still be young at 20 years old in Beijing.
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