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Unnoticed winter sports comes into spotlight in Sochi

Posted January. 08, 2014 04:04,   


Prior to the start of 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, a movie titled “Take Off” gained much popularity in Korea. The movie touched the hearts of many moviegoers because it was based on the real story of Korean ski jump team, which gave unexpectedly great performances in the Olympic Games despite all the hardships it had to go through.

Now, a number of Korean athletes are poised to revive the glory in the movie in a real life at the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi.

On Tuesday, Yun Seong-bin, a 20-year-old skeleton racer from the Korean National Sports University, won the Skeleton Intercontinental Cup in Whistler, Canada by recording 1 minute 45.73 seconds in total from the 1st and 2nd races. This is the first time for a Korean skeleton athlete to make it to the top at the Intercontinental Cup. Yun, the youngest in the Korean national skeleton team, started to learn this sport only 15 months ago. He ran last in the previous season. Then, it looked impossible for him to be qualified for the Olympics. However, he did not give up and continued strenuous efforts. For example, he ate eight meals a day to gain more weight. As a result, he gained 12 kg and his performance got much better. This season, he won a medal at every international competition he attended, and is now looking forward to the Sochi Winter Olympics.

29-year-old Won Jong-yun who is rewriting the history of Korean bobsleighs is ready for an upset in Sochi. Only four years ago, he was an ordinary student dreaming to be a physical education teacher. But he has evolved into an athlete leading the Korean bobsleigh team. He distinguished himself from others by winning three gold medals in international competitions including the America Cup last year. Won is solidifying his resolve to give a greater-than-expected performance at the Winter Olympics.

In the area of snow sports where Korean athletes have never been qualified for finals, Choi Jae-woo, a 20-year-old mogul skier from the Korean National Sports University, may become a hero. Choi joined the national ski team five years ago as the youngest national representative, and drew much attention by ranking fourth in the 2011 Asian Winter Games in Almaty. He finished third at the World Junior Championships for the first time as a Korean ski athlete. At the World Cup last year, he advanced into the finals for the first time as a Korean athlete in snow sports.

Apart from these, Kang Yeong-seo (17, Seong-il Women’s High School) who is ranked 240th by the International Ski Federation, the highest among Korean women alpine skiers, Lee Chae-won (32, Sports Council of Gyeonggi Province), the queen of Korean cross-country skiing, Kim Ho-jun (24, CJ CheilJedang Corp.), a representative in Korean snowboarding who is preparing for a turnaround in Sochi after a mistake at the Vancouver Olympics, and the women’s curling national team (Gyeonggi Province), which advanced into the semifinal at the 2012 World Curling Championships, are working to reenact the story of “Take Off” in Sochi.