North Korean figure skaters revel in starring role on Olympic ice

Updated 9:10 AM EST, Wed February 14, 2018
Ryom Tae-Ok and Kim Ju-Sik of North Korea perform during their pairs free skating program of the 49th Nebelhorn trophy figure skating competition in Oberstdorf, southern Germany, on September 29, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Christof STACHE        (Photo credit should read CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP/Getty Images)
CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Ryom Tae-Ok and Kim Ju-Sik of North Korea perform during their pairs free skating program of the 49th Nebelhorn trophy figure skating competition in Oberstdorf, southern Germany, on September 29, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Christof STACHE (Photo credit should read CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP/Getty Images)
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Story highlights

North Korean skaters impress with routine

Ryom Tae Ok and Kim Ju Sik qualify for final

Pyeongchang CNN —  

They landed every jump, wooed the crowd and rose to the occasion.

There was no gold medal to be won at the Gangneung Ice Arena on Wednesday, yet North Korean figure skaters Ryom Tae Ok, 19, and Kim Ju Sik 25, received the sort of attention usually bestowed on champions as they took to the ice for the pairs skating short program, reaching Thursday’s final with aplomb.

Ryom and Kim are the only two of 22 North Korean athletes to have qualified for these Winter Olympics by merit, with their compatriots receiving special invitations following inter-governmental talks between the North and the South.

While they are not expected to be on the podium, neither are they hopeless also-rans.

Achieving a season’s best 69.40 to qualify for the Thursday’s final in 11th place, the North Koreans – bronze medalists at last month’s Four Continents Championships – finished ahead of USA and Canada. They were brilliant.