+ A

Lim Eun-soo is Korean skating’s brightest star

The teenage talent is being dubbed the heir to Kim Yuna’s legacy
Nov 20,2018
이미지뷰
Lim Eun-soo during the free skate portion at the ISU Grand Prix Rostelecom Cup 2018 in Moscow, Russia on Saturday. [REUTERS/YONHAP]
When Kim Yuna burst into the world of figure skating, many young Korean girls started dreaming of a career on ice, but few of them have been successful. Fifteen-year-old skater Lim Eun-soo, though, is about to ascend to the sport’s highest level.

On Saturday, Lim became the first female Korean figure skater to win a medal at the International Skating Union (ISU) Grand Prix since Kim in 2009. At the Rostelecom Cup in Moscow, the fifth leg of the ISU Grand Prix, Lim received a combined score of 185.67 to finish behind Olympic gold medalist Alina Zagitova and Sofia Samodurova, both of Russia.

In free skating, Lim received a personal best score of 127.91 while she received 57.76 points in the short program.

Since Kim left the sport in 2014, there hasn’t been a Korean figure skater that continued her legendary legacy. “Yuna kids,” the young Korean female figure skaters who started the sport after watching Kim, have managed podium finishes in junior Grand Prix events. None managed to stand at the podium on the senior Grand Prix stage, however.

Korean female skaters like You Young and Choi Da-bin have been mentioned as the ones that will take up Kim’s mantle, but they have yet to leave an impression on the international stage.

While female skaters struggled, male skater Cha Jun-hwan made a smoother transition to the senior stage, winning bronze in two Grand Prix events last month.

But Lim’s podium finish has revived hope in Korean female figure skating.

“I competed in my first senior Grand Prix series this season,” Lim said. “I was getting physically tired from competing in two events for two straight weeks, but I’m glad to see such good results.”

Prior to competing in Moscow, Lim competed at the ISU Grand Prix NHK Trophy 2018 Hiroshima in Japan last week and finished sixth. It was the fourth leg of the Grand Prix series.

As Lim won a bronze in her second senior Grand Prix event of the season, her achievement is impressive. At the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, Lim wasn’t able to compete, as she was too young, but she appeared at the PyeongChang Olympics Gala Show as one of the junior skaters to look out for.

As Lim quickly rose to the senior stage, she received the spotlight in Korean figure skating. Many hoped that she can be the second Korean figure skater to win an Olympic medal if she competes at the 2022 Beijing Winter Games. Kim Yuna recognized Lim’s potential and continuously gives her advice before competing.

“Kim gives me some advice,” Lim said in an article posted to the ISU’s official website. “Sometimes when I compete she sends me messages, and sometimes when I am back in Korea, she teaches me a little.”

Like other Yuna kids, Lim’s interest in the sport grew during the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. Kim’s outfit, in addition to her skating skills, caught Lim’s attention.

“I saw [Kim], and her costume was so sparkling,” Lim said. “I was so young, and I just wanted to wear that costume so I started skating. I saw her in a competition on TV. I was six or seven years old.”

As Lim started figure skating after watching Kim, Lim’s strength is also in her jumps. Lim’s triple lutz-triple toe loop combination jump, which was also Kim’s strength, helped her finish fourth at the junior world championship last year and fifth this year.

At the Grand Prix on Saturday, Lim received an additional 1.52 performance points, in addition to the basic 10.10 points, for completing this jump as her first jump in her performance. Following her triple lutz-triple toe loop combination jump, Lim successfully completed her triple loop and triple salchow.

Although Lim is still young, she’s skilled in the performance aspect of figure skating. When Brian Orser, Kim’s coach, first saw Lim, he said that she has the potential to be the world’s best skater.

“Lim Eun-soo is fundamentally strong in jumps and skating so she has bright future ahead of her,” said Bang Sang-ah, a skating commentator and former national figure skater.

Prior to the start of the season, Lim left for the United States to receive coaching from Rafael Arutunian, who specializes in jumps. Notable skaters, such as Nathan Chen and Ashley Wagner of the United States and Marin Honda of Japan, train under Arutunian.

“Training along with the world’s best skaters helps a lot,” Lim said.

Lim headed back to Los Angeles so she could continue training for the national championship, which runs from Dec. 21 to 23.

If Lim manages another podium finish at the event, she will earn a spot in the ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in February.

BY PARK SO-YOUNG, KANG YOO-RIM [kang.yoorim@joongang.co.kr]