North Korean figure skaters revel in starring role on Olympic ice

Ryom Tae Okay and Kim Ju Sik proved why they have been the one North Korean athletes to qualify for the PyeongChang Video games.

They instantly went into second place in the qualifying spherical with a rating of 69.40, behind the Olympic Athletes for Russia on 70.52. However with 12 extra groups to compete, they don’t seem to be assured a spot in the finals.

Few athletes have been underneath extra scrutiny on the 2018 Winter Video games. Ryom, 18, and Kim, 25, have been the one athletes to compete underneath their nation’s flag; North Korea’s hockey gamers are competing as a part of a unified Korean crew.

The duo have been supported by an enormous squad of North Korean cheerleaders, who’ve traveled to Pyeongchang for the Olympics. The squad, dressed in matching purple jackets and white hats, additionally loudly cheered on South Korean skating duo of Kim Kyueun and Alex Kam.

However the cross-Peninsula help did not assist the South Koreans, who scored a disappointing 42.93 after Kim took a tough fall onto the ice. The rating clearly hit them exhausting, with Kim on the verge of tears talking to reporters after the efficiency.

The crowd cheered as the pair ended each portion of their routine.

The North Korean pair initially certified for the Winter Olympics in September, however North Korea’s Nationwide Olympic Committee (NOC) missed the deadline to register them for the Video games.

After a sudden and dramatic rapprochement between the 2 Koreas, nonetheless, the Worldwide Olympic Committee agreed to increase the deadline for North Korean participation.

“The IOC’s mission is all the time to make sure the participation of all certified athletes, past all political tensions and divisions,” the IOC mentioned in an announcement.

After their efficiency, the North Korean skaters smiled broadly and ignored query from reporters as they walked previous the worldwide press. They later mentioned they have been grateful for the help of the Korean individuals.

Skating with ‘happiness’ and ‘ardour’

The pair secured one of many last Olympic spots after producing a formidable free-skate efficiency, once more to “A Day in the Life,” on the Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany in September.

Beforehand, Ryom and Kim had spent the summer season coaching in Montreal underneath famend Canadian coach, Bruno Marcotte.

Marcotte informed CNN the 2 North Koreans exhibit “happiness” and “ardour,” whereas skating and referred to as them “a pleasure to work with.”

“Their objective — all we talked about — is how they will get their rating increased. And so they wish to take one step at a time. You realize, the following objective is to come back in prime 5 at (the) Worlds. The one factor we discuss is how can they progress (in) the world rating.”

Marcotte can be coach to Canadian world champions Megan Duhamel and Eric Radford.

The Worldwide Skating Union web site lists Kim’s pursuits as music, dance and studying, whereas Ryom’s hobbies embody soccer, studying, and music.

Neither skater has beforehand participated on the Winter Olympics, and their most notable success got here on the Pairs Figure Skating in the Asian Figure Skating Trophy in Manila, Philippines, in August 2016, the place they received gold.

CNN’s Sophie Jeong and Will Ripley contributed reporting from Pyeongchang, South Korea.

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