February 23, 2018 / 10:03 AM / a year ago

Figure skating: Hometown skaters win roars of approval, praise from Kim Yuna

Figure Skating - Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics - Women Single Skating free skating competition final - Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea - February 23, 2018 - Choi Da-bin of South Korea competes. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

GANGNEUNG, South Korea (Reuters) - Two South Korean skaters on Friday brought down the rafters at the Olympic skating arena as local crowds roared approval of their performances and the two earned praise from two-time Olympic medal winner Kim Yuna.

Skater Choi Dabin, who earlier this month told reporters her mother - who passed away last year - was “watching her performance from Heaven”, finished seventh out of 24 for her haunting, clean skate to “Doctor Zhivago.”

Both she and fellow South Korean skater Kim Hanul were cheered by an enthusiastic crowd waving South Korean flags who gave them standing ovations and pelted the ice with stuffed animals and flowers.

Later, they were singled out for praise by Kim Yuna, who won gold in Vancouver in 2010 and silver in Sochi in 2014 and is still a revered figure and idol to younger skaters in her native land.

“I was worried whether the young athletes would be too nervous at home and at their first Olympics,” Kim was quoted as saying by Yonhap News Agency.

“Their flawless performance was admirable. This experience will help them continue their athletic careers.”

She also said that advancements in skating made it difficult to compare her and current skaters, including Alina Zagitova, who took gold with a program crammed with triple jumps.

“I retired four years ago. Every season, many things, including skating skills, change a lot,” said Kim.

“It’s hard to compare me and skaters in the field now,” she added. “Those skaters out there have improved a lot in terms of techniques over the past four years.”

Reporting by Elaine Lies; editing by Sudipto Ganguly

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