Eunsoo Lim shared that not getting to the Olympics and parting with the team of Rafael Arutyunyan impacted her decision to retire
Translation of an article and interview with Eunsoo Lim. About her career, decision to retire and incident with Mariah Bell.
source: news.naver.com dd. 11th July 2023 by Cho Young-joon
From the seeds planted by Kim Yuna (33), many ‘Little Yuna’s’ have blossomed. Among them, there is a particular flower that remains vividly in the ice rink, etched as a nostalgic memory.
Eunsoo Lim (20) was once one of the most anticipated figure skating prospects. She led Korean women’s figure skating alongside Kim Yelim (20), You Young (19), and Lee Haein (18). In 2016, she achieved 3rd place in the women’s singles event at the National Championships, emerging as a ‘next-generation hope,’ and subsequently achieved valuable results in international competitions.
At the time, Eunsoo Lim showed her presence one step ahead of competitors such as You Young and Kim Yelim in international competitions. In 2017, she reached 4th place in the ISU Junior World Championships, receiving the highest score after Kim Yuna at that time. After advancing to the senior stage, she won a bronze medal at the ISU Grand Prix (2018 ISU Russia Rostelecom Cup). At that time, she became the first skater to stand on the podium in the ISU Senior Grand Prix in women’s single skating since Kim Yuna.
In the 2019 World Championships, she became the first skater to surpass a total score of 200 points since Kim Yuna (205.57 points), achieving a place in the top 10.
However, after finishing 5th at the 2021 ISU Grand Prix NHK Trophy, she couldn’t show her previous abilities. Following her failure to qualify for the ultimate goal of competing in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, she retired from official competitions.
Nevertheless, she hasn’t completely left the ice and is currently immersed in the preparation of a creative ice show called G-Show, which combines media art and ice show in a musical format, showing no signs of stopping.
Instead of the somewhat reserved and shy girl she was in her teens, she has matured and now radiates confidence as a ‘university student.’
After the 2022 National Championships, which served as the second Olympic qualifying event for the Beijing Winter Olympics, Eunsoo Lim settled into her ordinary daily life. Recently, she has been busy preparing for the G-Show and has also started choreographing for promising young skaters.
“I believed that continuous learning was essential, and I thought about teaching what I had learned in my field of expertise (skating). In truth, it wasn’t just because I wanted to teach, but being called upon a couple of times by the team was helpful, and as my role became more defined, I ended up choreographing as well.”
Eunsoo Lim is not an official coach or instructor yet. She began assisting some skaters under her former mentor, Coach Choi Hyung-kyung, and gradually expanded her involvement to creating choreography for other skaters.
“I enjoy listening to music, so I had many songs in mind that I wanted to use for choreography. I did choreography to a few young skaters, giving them the opportunity to experience the music I wanted to try and also selecting music that suited each skater. Completing choreography with a variety of music genres was enjoyable, and I felt proud watching the skaters grow as I taught them.”
After the 2022 National Championships held in January last year, Eunsoo Lim chose a new path. Regarding the memories of that competition, she recalled, “The ultimate goal was the Olympics. It was also an Olympic qualifying event, so it felt like a culmination in some sense. I prepared for it as if it were the last competition.”
Currently a sophomore in college, Eunsoo Lim expressed her desire to explore various possibilities and embrace challenges rather than having a specific future as a coach or choreographer.
“I feel like it’s a time for me to take on challenges. I’m still a student, and I’m also preparing for performances and have tried coaching. While trying out different things, I hope to find my own path. I’ve been interested in acting for a while, and when an opportunity came, I decided to audition. I want to open up and explore various possibilities in the future.”
Eunsoo Lim was a skater with many possibilities. As such, there were also significant regrets. She had exceptional jumping abilities, including a strong triple + triple combination, and his facial expressions and stage presence were her strengths in performance.
However, her upward trajectory was disrupted when her highly anticipated overseas training program took an unexpected turn. While preparing for the 2018-2019 season, Eunsoo Lim joined the coaching team of Rafael Arutyunyan (Armenia, USA), a renowned coach and world-class jump specialist who has produced famous skaters.
With firm determination, she headed to the United States, where Arutyunyan’s coaching team was based, but unforeseen challenges awaited her. During an official practice session at the 2019 World Championships, after completing her short program performance, Eunsoo Lim was skating slowly near the right-side boards. In this situation, her teammate, Mariah Bell (USA), who was preparing for her turn, accidentally struck Eunsoo Lim’s calf with her skate toe pick.
Eunsoo couldn’t bear the pain and immediately stopped the official practice. She received urgent medical treatment from the on-site medical staff outside the rink. Her left calf, which was struck by Bell’s skate blade, swelled up.
This incident had a significant impact on Eunsoo Lim, who was only 16 years old at the time. As a result of the incident with teammate Bell, her plans with the Arutyunyan coaching team fell through, and she ultimately had to return to Korea.
This period is crucial for female figure skaters. They need to develop the skills to compete on the senior stage, improve the quality of their existing jumps and techniques, and enhance their unique expressive abilities. Additionally, they must adapt to changes in their physical condition and overcome injuries in order to make progress in international competitions.
However, Eunsoo Lim’s steps were hindered as her overseas training schedule did not go as planned.
“To be honest, the first thing that didn’t work out was the psychological impact. I thought I was doing well, had the motivation, and when I was working the hardest, unexpectedly I had to return to Korea. Because I felt thirsty for growth, I chose overseas training and had the motivation. But there, I couldn’t find my footing. I tried to recover, but my training efficiency decreased, my skills and jumps weren’t working, and it became a vicious cycle.”
As an adult, Eunsoo Lim didn’t blame anyone for the situation at the time. She also acknowledged that as a female athlete, changes in body shape and injuries could have a significant impact. However, she didn’t attach much importance to these reasons. She calmly stated, “There were some changes in body shape, but they weren’t the main cause. There were no major injuries either.”
When asked cautiously about the incident with Mariah Bell, Eunsoo Lim replied, “It was an issue between the two of us, and there were conflicts. I cannot prove whether the incident (collision) was intentional or not. Only she knows.” She also addressed the notion that her relationship with other teammates in the team was not good, saying, “That is not true. There were no issues in that regard, and now I have overcome a lot, so I can say this.”
The wounds from the 2019 World Championships were significant. However, Eunsoo Lim did not give up until the end of the competition and achieved a ‘Top 10’ placement.
“The incident happened a few hours before the short program competition. I had a lot of worries and shed many tears about participating in the competition, but at that time, I went out alone for the World Championships (women’s singles). The spots for he upcoming competitions for Koran skaters were also at stake. That’s why I thought, ‘I can’t give up without even trying,’ and I went onto the ice. As a result, I ended up feeling less nervous and more confident than I had anticipated.”
Having overcome significant challenges, Eunsoo Lim surpassed a total score of 200 points in this competition, the first skater to do so after Kim Yuna. Additionally, she successfully entered the top 10 and secured two spots for the upcoming World Championships in women’s singles for Korea.
When asked about the most memorable program, she mentioned “Somewhere in Time” (2018-2019 season short program). Eunsoo Lim stated, “It was a lyrical piece that I attempted for the first time, and it matched well with the choreography by Jeffrey Buttle (Canada).”
“I am grateful to the fans who still remember ‘Skater Eunsoo Lim’… I want to repay them with good performances.”
Currently, Eunsoo Lim is preparing for a show called “G-Show,” which is a musical ice show that adapts the story of Queen Soorubin, the wife of King Jinheung of the Unified Silla Dynasty, in the context of the era of North and South Korea. Eunsoo Lim, along with former national representative takes on the role of the protagonist, ‘Hana.’ After auditioning for the role, Eunsoo Lim challenges a new stage that harmonizes figure skating’s expression and musical elements.
“The reason I auditioned is that when I was a competitive skater, I couldn’t always enter the ice rink with joy. Results were important, and I had to show my preparedness. I always entered the rink with tension. In this performance, I wanted to show what I have done (in skating) joyfully and freely.”
“I would like to express my gratitude to the fans who have remembered me all this time. I am thankful not only to those who supported me when I did well but also to those who supported me even when I didn’t. I have had difficult times, but thanks to the fans, I received comfort and motivation. I want to show you a good performance and hope to meet you again soon (through this show).”
cover photo by _xxxkkkk
Related topics: Eunsoo Lim
Korean Sport and Olympic Committee will ask the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to investigate a recent doping admission by Adelina Sotnikova