Home Figure Skating News Hyungyeom Kim: Strengthening the fundamentals

Hyungyeom Kim: Strengthening the fundamentals

Focusing and refining

by Paula Slater
Krystal Yeung

Hyungyeom Kim

Hyungyeom Kim

Following a successful run on the Junior Grand Prix (JGP) circuit last season, South Korea’s Hyungyeom Kim is eagerly anticipating his first full year competing as a senior in 2024-25. While he made his senior international debut in 2023-24 at a challenger event and the world championships, this upcoming season will mark his first as a full-time senior competitor.

The 2023-24 JGP Final silver medalist has two new programs which he will showcase at the 2024 Cranberry Cup International—the first Challenger Series event of the season. It will be held in Norwood, Mass., August 8-11, 2024.

His short program is to “Amuse Bouce (Reprise)” from The Menu soundtrack and was choreographed by Stéphane Lambiel.

“There were four options for short program music given by him,” said Kim. “The reason I was attracted to this one was because it had a distinctive and unique feeling. The music itself was mysterious and had a unique rhythm, so I chose it.”

“I want to express the message of the movie,” he added of his new short program. “However, I still have difficulty understanding the message that the movie is trying to convey, so I am trying to understand my new short program. As I get more used to the program, I want to express my emotion. I especially I want to express sharpness and show how to control the strength and weakness in new short program.”

The skater chose “To the Stars” from the Dragonheart soundtrack for his free skate, which was choreographed by Shin Yea-ji.

“She recommended it,” said Kim of his choreographer. “This year is the ‘Year of the Dragon,’ so I chose a song related to the dragon. As the music itself is grand, I want to show a powerful and speedy performance in the free skating. I want to show the feeling of finding mystery in choreography, and emotionally I want to express a mournful feeling.”

Incidentally, Kim also would like to try his hand with classical music in the future.

“I believe figure skating is quite related to art, and classical music had a profound influence on various art fields,” he explained. “Therefore, I want to perform with classical music because it’s the most artistic. I’m actually hesitant to perform with classical music because of the difficulty to express, but I really want to try it someday and I’m looking forward to it!”

Soccer Fields to Ice Rinks

Kim first took to the ice at a local rink when he was eight years old. At the time, he was also learning soccer at a youth soccer academy and happened to go to the rink with friends from the academy.

“I was also learning ballet, piano, and so on, but figure skating was the most suitable sport for me,” he said. “The fact that figure skating is not only a sport, but also closely related to art, made me fall in love with it. Actually, it was so long ago that I don’t remember exactly what it felt like, but now that I think about it, figure skating came to me like fate!”

A year later, he took the sport more seriously and began training under Hyunjung Chi, his current coach today.

“She knows me better than anyone else, so she is teaching me with customized coaching so that my skills can be improved,” he said. “Coach Jinseo Kim has been teaching me for four years, and he has helped me develop high-level jump skills like a triple Axel. I always appreciate my coaches because they have helped me change my life a lot.”

Kim recalls his very first competition from eight years ago called the “Kyobo Life Cup Youth Athletic Competition.”

“It is the only multi-sport event for youth that is co-hosted by a private company and athletic organizations,” he explained. “The competition was first held in 1985, and the cumulative number of participants reached about 140,000 over the past 40 years. About 400 Korea’s national athletes participated in this competition. I was so nervous that I couldn’t remember exactly what I did during the performance, but fortunately, I won the gold medal, and it meant a lot to me!”

Training the quads

Last season, Kim started training as a member of the national team at the Taereung National Training Center (also known as the Korea National Training Center) in Seoul.

“When I realized that I became a member of the national team, and I felt a lot of emotions,” he recalled. “I want to continue to work harder and do my best with pride as a national athlete.”

The skater is currently working on improving his quad toe, which he hopes to add to his short program. While he used it last season, he admitted in not having much confidence in it. He would also like to have two triple Axels in his free skate.

“The more I did the quadruple toe, the more I got the hang of it,” he said. “Now, by improving my speed, I focus on enhancing the overall completeness of my jump skills, including triple Axels. I have been trying the quad flip since the beginning of May, but not the quad Lutz yet.”

“I was a little bit worried because it was my first time to attempt the quad flip,” he added, “but I was satisfied with the results of my first attempt compared to the other jumps. I expect it will take some time to get used to it, so it remains to be seen whether the quad flip will be reflected in programs next season.”

Education and hobbies

Kim currently studies through tutoring on the weekends as his training schedule is chaotic. His favorite subjects are math and Korean literature.

When not studying or training, the skater likes to play online games with his friends. He also enjoys reading web novels and classical literature.

“I don’t really like movies, TV shows, or YouTube,” he confessed, “so, I don’t have any series that I usually watch. However, I recently watched the movie Dune: Part Two and I was really impressed with the colorful visuals. I liked the psychological description of the character and the imagination and story.”

Role models and lessons learned

It’s widely known that Kim looks up to fellow countryman Junhwan Cha, especially for his ability to portray characters and emotion on the ice.

“He is an icon who popularized Korean men’s figure skating,” Kim noted. “Personally, I think he is gentle and good-natured, so I want to resemble his mature and sensible attitude.”

I also think Yuma Kagiyama’s skating and jumping form are very cool!” he shared. “Additionally, I thought Adam Siao Him Fa deserved respect for his strong mental toughness by overcoming his mistake in the short program and showing his performance in the free skating at the 2024 World Championships!”

One of the most important things Kim learned last season was the difference between juniors and seniors.

“The difference between them is quite larger than I expected,” he said. “It showed a large gap for the level of a skater’s PCS (program component scores) and high-level skills between junior and senior. So, I thought I should practice more and more, and it would be an opportunity to develop those skills.”

Looking ahead to 2024-25

For the upcoming season, Kim made it clear that he wants to improve on his basic skating skills in terms of PCS scores.

“I want to improve and enhance my skating and expression,” he explained. “Currently, I believe it’s more important to focus on refining and feeling comfortable with the techniques I’ve already mastered, rather than pushing for more difficult ones.”

“My focus is on paying attention to the technical aspects, particularly the additional points for jumps,” he continued. “I’m working on strengthening the fundamentals of other jumps to prepare for more difficult ones like the quad flip and quad Lutz. I also want to improve my speed.”

Moreover, Kim simply wants to improve as a skater overall, and is always thinking about the next step.

“I try to focus on the things I have to do in the present to achieve this,” he summed up. “However, I think that I don’t have enough experience as a senior, so I need time to adapt.”

In addition to Cranberry Cup, Kim is hopeful for another Challenger Event. He will also be making his Grand Prix debut at Cup of China in November.

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