South Korea’s Hannah Lim and Ye Quan broke into the international scene last season in Courchevel in their Junior Grand Prix debut, winning a bronze medal. Fast forward a year later, and the young team snatched the title, improving their total score by 17.69 points. It was a historic win as they became the first ice dance team from South Korea to win a gold medal for their country on the Junior Grand Prix series.
“We were indeed happy with our performances at Courchevel,” said Quan. “Of course, after reviewing and getting feedback from judges and coaches, we found a couple of places where we could improve and do better. I’m excited to notice that even though we scored a personal best, we still have room to get better and better.”
“We were both very happy with our performances, because it was the best we have skated them so far this season,” said Lim. “After looking over our videos, competitors, and receiving feedback from judges, we had a debrief with our coach at the airport, actually.”
Lim and Quan were paired up at the Ice Academy of Montreal (IAM) in July 2019 after a try out. While they competed for Canada, the team decided to represent Korea beginning with the 2021-22 season.
“I wanted to represent my home country as I felt a very strong attachment to my cultural background,” said Lim. “I felt very proud to see my family in Korea and to celebrate the traditions with them. I wanted to make the change and make my parents proud as a ‘thank you’ gift for their support throughout my skating career.” “I was happy to represent Korea with her,” added Quan.
“My mother doesn’t have her Korean citizenship anymore, but my dad moved to Canada when he was around 23 years old, so he still has his Korean citizenship. This is how I was able to get dual citizenship. They are both living in Toronto right now.”
Quan’s mother was born and raised in China, and while pregnant, she moved to Iceland where he was born.
“I lived there for around two years and then I moved to China to live with my grandparents for a year before finally moving to Canada,” he shared. “Both my parents live here now.”
Despite competing for South Korea, both ice dancers consider Montreal as their hometown.
In addition to competing on the Junior Grand Prix circuit last season, Lim and Quan also debuted at the World Junior Figure Skating Championships where they placed seventh in the Rhythm Dance, fourth in the Free Dance, and sixth overall.
This season, the team has worked hard to produce two new programs under the watchful eyes of Marie-France Dubreuil, Patrice Lauzon, Romain Haguenauer, Benjamin Brisebois, Pascal Denis, and Josée Piché.
“Last year was their first international season,” noted Brisebois. “It is only their fourth season together, and with the pandemic, there were no Junior Grand Prix events the year they were suppose to start. I believe they have matured a great deal since then and have gained lots of experience in a short period of time that they could apply that to their skating. That’s why I believe they can bring it this season! I am sure that the fact they have the chance to train with skaters with many years of experiences helps them a lot. They can see how they train, how they perform, how they communicate, etc.”
The Rhythm Dance is a tango set to Astor Piazzolla’s “Primavera Porteña” and was choreographed by Haguenauer. In Courchevel, the team appeared aggressive, solid and confident, and the choreography was demanding, showing much potential.
“I really like how we are exploring a different type of dance this year,” said Quan. “Compared to our previous Rhythm Dance programs, the dancing style is a lot more mature and internalized. I really like the ‘connection’ we make between us during the performance of this dance.”
“Romain and Benjamin gave about seven to eight piece of tango music to try after the 2022 Junior World Championships,” Lim explained. “We all collectively decided on the ‘Primavera Porteña’ piece, and we felt it was a good step up from last year. I like how the concept is more mature from last year. It was difficult to adjust my skating style to make more mature body lines and movements, but now it’s very fun to play this older character!”
The team indeed showed commitment and connection in Courchevel, especially in their new brilliant Free Dance to a unique version of Danse Macabre—which shows lots of detail and many nuances. The program was choreographed by Dubreuil and Samuel Chouinard.
“I actually chose this piece with my mom’s friend,” Lim revealed. “We were sitting in a café and her favorite skater is Yuna Kim. She suggested that we do our next program to Danse Macabre because it was her favourite program Yuna Kim had. I questioned it at first, because many single skaters have done this piece, but it was pretty rare in Ice dance. I thought it would be difficult to skate and perform on the ice together, but after suggesting the idea to Marie-France, she loved it and wanted to choreograph it for us.”
The ice dancers portray “life” and “death” in this piece where Quan represents “life” as a real person and Lim represents “death” as a grim reaper. Lim shows up to take Quan to the afterlife, but he is unaware that she is the grim reaper. As the program progresses, he beings to fall in love with her. However, he eventually realizes that she is grim reaper and that he will soon die. By the end, he accepts his death and she takes him away.
“The choreo step sequence is actually us going down the ‘staircase to the afterlife,'” Lim explained. “I like this program because I can portray a sort of evil character. My movements are mysterious and a bit weird, so it’s fun to play this character!”
“I also really like this program because, again, there are a lot more connections between our characters,” said Quan. “As I represent ‘life’, it’s fun to look for different ways to see death and what it could mean to different people.”
Lim and Quan train alongside most of the teams at IAM, though the schedule changes frequently due to all the teams’ extracurricular activities.
“Madison Chock and Evan Bates really inspire me the most,” said Lim. “I love the way she uses her hands to perform, as well as her eyes. It feels as if they’re drawing us into their performance. I also really admire Olivia Smart and Adrian Diaz. They skate very powerfully and have a very strong intensity between them when they perform, and it makes me want to watch them a lot.”
“I really admire Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker,” offered Quan. “I really love the way they perform on the ice. I can feel the emotions that they portray and it really draws me in!”
While all the coaches at IAM work with Lim and Quan, they have a few specialized coaches for specific elements.
“For example, we have Émilie Josset who works with our storytelling and acting on the ice,” said Lim. “Sébastien Soldevila, who specializes in lifts, and Samuel Chouinard who choregraphs and complements our dancing parts of our programs.”
Both ice dancers feel they have matured a great deal since last season.
“I think it’s because we chose a different style of music compared to the previous season,” said Lim. “Cats and ‘Gangnam Style’ had us performing a lot outwards to the audience and judges, and I barely remember seeing Ye throughout the programs! Performing outward made it very fun to perform, but maybe made us seem a bit more ‘immature.’ This year, though, it feels like I don’t look towards the audience or judges at all. I only remember seeing Ye when we skate our programs. This makes the connection between us show more which I think is a reason why we look more mature this year.”
Quan agreed, adding, “This year’s performances are a lot more internalized compared to last year’s, so they feel more mature. I also believe we matured as a couple after all of our experiences at different competitions last season. We are, in general, more organized and prepared than last year.”
This season, the team feels they have improved the most on their pattern step sequence in terms of difficulty.
“Last year, the step sequence was very square and straightforward,” noted Lim. “However, this year, we have a circular step sequence and our in-between steps and holds are more difficult.”
“I would add that it is also skated more fluid than our previous step sequence,” said Quan. “Our previous ones felt more static.”
“They have always worked hard,” said Brisebois of their worth ethic. “Recently they really improved their efficiency and understand better how to make training sessions more efficient for what they need. I think they can understand better what they need to do to become a good senior team and they are working towards that direction. They are really open and willing to challenge what they do to become better ice dancers and it’s a lot of fun to work with them!”
Both skaters want to improve on their skating skills and skate more powerfully with more ice coverage and finished free legs. They both have also named Guillaume Cizeron and Gabriella Papadakis as the team they feel has influenced them the most.
“I really love how they look like they skate as one entity and every movement has a meaning,” said Quan. “Especially for this season, now that we are doing a more mature dance, I really try to take them as references.”
“Whenever I think about performance or my skating, I picture how they skate in my mind,” Lim revealed. “They have this calmness and maturity when they perform which draws me into their skating. Learning to not ‘over perform’ and throw myself into the choreography has been a goal for me this season, and watching their skating helps me a lot!”
When not training, Quan studies natural sciences online at CÉGEP and works as a part-time coach. When he has free time, he enjoys reading short web novels or watching short videos about shows or movies has watched such as Harry Potter.
Lim is currently reading The Great Gatsby for school and likes to dance a lot in her free time.
Their goals for this season are to qualify for the Junior Grand Prix Final and podium at the World Junior Figure Skating Championships.
“If we would like to achieve these goals, we must work very hard together and with our coaches,” acknowledged Lim. “Besides skating clean, we would like to show the judges and audience a performance that draws them in. So much so, that they don’t want to look away. I like these kind of performances, because I know the feeling from watching others, and it is a very exciting feeling.”
“Personally, I want to improve the way I portray and improve my character this year,” Quan summed up. “I want it to be more consistent and obvious through our programs.”
Lim and Quan will compete next month at the final Junior Grand Prix event in Egna-Neumarkt next month.