Women’s figure skater Yoo Yoo-young, 19, who has been in a severe slump since the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, boosted her chances of returning to the national team with a “surprise” second place finish in the short program at the 78th National Men’s and Women’s Figure Skating Championships and National Secondary Selection Trials.

Yoo scored 37.10 technical points (TES) and 31.86 artistic points (PCS) for a total of 68.96 points in the women’s short program at the Uijeongbu Indoor Ice Center in Uijeongbu, Gyeonggi-do, on Saturday, placing second behind Shin Jia (69.08 points – Young Dong-joong).

A longtime fixture in South Korea’s figure women’s singles program, Yoo peaked at the Beijing Winter Olympics (6th) and World Championships 2022 (5th) before suffering a downward spiral due to injury and poor form.

She returned to Korea last season, finishing 11th at the first and second national team trials.

Yoo competed at his own expense in the two 2023-2024 International Ice Skating Union (ISU) Senior Grand Prix events, finishing 11th and eighth, respectively.

At the first national team trials for next season last month, she finished eighth with 185.29 points.

However, Yoo’s second-place finish in the short program at this year’s tournament marked a resurgence, and depending on the outcome of the free skate at the same venue on Sunday, he could be in line for a return to the national team next season, as well as a spot at the World Championships in March.

The World Championships are open to athletes aged 16 or older on July 1, 2023, and the top three finishers at this event, which is not age-restricted, will qualify.

Next season’s women’s singles squad will be made up of nine athletes and will be determined by the combined scores of the first and second national team trials.

Yoo’s performance on the day was clean. He got off to a good start, executing both his first jump, a triple lutz-triple toe loop combination, and his second, a double axel, cleanly. He kept things light, executing both his flying camel spin and layback spin at level 3.

Her final jump, a triple flip, was ruled Attention (use of edge), but she did not falter. She finished with a change foot combination spin and a step sequence, both performed at the highest level of difficulty, level 4.

First place in the short program went to Shin Jia, who was looking to win her second straight title. Her final jump, a triple lutz, didn’t go as well as she had hoped as she wobbled on the landing.

In third place was Lee Hae-in (Sehwa Girls’ High School) with a score of 68.43.

Earlier in the men’s singles competition, Cha Jun-hwan (Korea University) took first place with a technical score of 52.42 (TES), 44.09 (PCS) and a total score of 96.51, ahead of Lee Si-hyung (85.06 – Korea University) in second and Kim Hyun-gyeom (79.44 – Han AD) in third.

Cha will attempt to win his eighth consecutive title in the free skate at the same venue on July 7. He won the event seven times in a row from 2017 to last year, when he was a student at Hwimun Middle School.

In addition, Cha has virtually guaranteed himself a spot at the World Championships if he finishes in the top three.

The KIOC qualifies five men’s singles athletes for next season’s national team by combining their scores from the first national selection event held last month with their scores from this event, and Cha won the first selection event by more than 20 points over the second-place finisher.

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