Refreshed and recharged, figure skater ready for new chapter in career

February 22, 2019

Her score Friday wasn’t nearly as high as fans were used to seeing from her, but South Korean figure skater Choi Da-bin was just happy to have completed her first competition in nearly a year.

Choi finished second in the ladies’ singles at the National Winter Sports Festival with a two-day total of 134.45 points. She scored 87.84 points in Friday’s free skate at Taereung Indoor Ice Rink in Seoul.

A year ago Saturday, Choi placed seventh at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics with personal highs of 131.49 points in free skate and 199.26 points in the overall score. But she battled ankle problems, caused by a pair of loose skate boots, all of last season, and the nagging issue forced her to withdraw from the world championships last March after her short program.

South Korean figure skater Choi Da-bin performs her free skate program in the ladies' singles event at the National Winter Sports Festival at Taereung Indoor Ice Rink in Seoul on Feb. 22, 2019. (Yonhap)
South Korean figure skater Choi Da-bin acknowledges the crowd after completing her free skate program in the ladies' singles event at the National Winter Sports Festival at Taereung Indoor Ice Rink in Seoul on Feb. 22, 2019. (Yonhap)

South Korean figure skater Choi Da-bin performs her free skate program in the ladies’ singles event at the National Winter Sports Festival at Taereung Indoor Ice Rink in Seoul on Feb. 22, 2019. (Yonhap)

She ended up sitting out the rest of 2018, and the National Winter Sports Festival was her first competition since the worlds.

“I was so nervous and anxious during the warmup yesterday (before the short program),” Choi said. “Today, it wasn’t so much the nerves. I didn’t think I had enough left in my tank, but I was able to finish my program.”

She had difficulty finding a pair that fit, and the 19-year-old said she felt it was time to take a step away from the rink.

“I was just so drained, both physically and mentally,” she said. “I felt I should just drop everything and take a break from the sport.”

Off the ice, Choi said she had fun being on campus as a college freshman.

“I got to experience the kind of school life that I didn’t have a chance to enjoy much before, and did things that you can only do in college,” she said. “Growing up, most of my friends were figure skaters. But I met student-athletes from other sports in college. It was great to see people who work so hard in their own sports.”

Choi said she only trained a little bit and barely watched figure skating on television. But Choi said she was always pleased to hear the news of young figure skaters’ successes.

“They are very talented, and they take great care of themselves,” Choi said of teen figure skaters like Lim Eun-soo and You Young, who’ve begun to make their marks internationally this season. “I think they’re being rewarded for their hard work this season.”

Choi was noncommittal about her prospect of skating at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, saying she hasn’t given it much thought and wants to enjoy being back on the ice for now.

“My goal for now is to compete next season,” Choi said. “The important thing for me is that I will continue to skate.”

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