South Korea’s Young You has been hailed as one of the brightest stars to come out of that nation since Yuna Kim, but her career to date has been an up and down affair. You is aiming to change that trend this season.

You closed out her junior career with a sixth-place finish at the World Junior Championships. The following season she captured silver and bronze at her two Challenger Series events, finished third at Skate Canada and fourth at Cup of China. In January 2020 she won the Youth Olympic Games and finished second at the Four Continents Championships.

At her only international competition last season, NHK Trophy, You placed seventh overall. Following the cancelation of the 2020 World Championships and the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic, You returned to her South Korean homeland. With all the rinks closed for most of the year, neither she nor the other national team members were able to train and prepare for this season as they normally would. 

The 17-year-old, who is coached by Tammy Gambill, was finally able to return to her U.S. training base in the latter part of 2020. “Because of COVID I was locked down in Korea and did a lot of quarantine last year, so I think my body was not as loose (as it normally is) and it was hard to get back into shape,” she said.

You returned to South Korea for the national championships in February. Though she narrowly won the short program, two falls in the free dropped her to fourth overall and she was not selected for the World team. She returned to Colorado Springs in April, and said she feels much more prepared this season than she was last year. “I think I have more confidence because of that.”

This season You has chosen “Whirling Winds” from “The Leftovers” soundtrack by Ludovico Einaudi for the short and a trio of pieces from Claude Michel Schonberg and Alain Albert Boubill’s “Les Miserable” soundtrack for the free. “During the lockdown I listened to a lot of music,” said You. “I decided to do ‘I Dream a Dream’ from ‘Les Miserable’ because I think that it matched my situation last year and it is really powerful music for the Olympics.”

You is one of the few women in the world who has a triple Axel in her repertoire, though it has proven to be inconsistent. She said her success rate with the jump is “better than last year” and is probably around 50 percent. At her first competition of the season, Cranberry Cup International, You captured the silver medal, but it was a struggle. She fell on an under-rotated triple Axel in the short program, which left her in fifth place. In the free skate, fell on the first triple Axel attempt and received an under-rotation call on the second one executed in tandem with a double toe.

Later that month she competed at Autumn Classic International in Québec, Canada. You said she switched the content of her program around after Cranberry Cup because she found the former layout too demanding physically. “I had the triple Axel, triple flip, two spins and then a triple Lutz-triple toe, but I had a hard time with my stamina with the Lutz-toe. So I decided to do a spin, the Lutz-toe, another spin and then the step sequence,” she explained.

At Autumn Classic, You landed the triple Axel in the short program but slipped off the edge on the landing and crashed to the ice. Though she said the mistake caused a momentary loss of concentration her next two jumping passes were hit with edge and under-rotation calls by the technical panel. “It was not my best. Like the triple Axel slipped out and other elements. I think it was a little less than I can do so the points were lower than I expected.”

Though she remained vertical on both triple Axel attempts in the free, they too were hit with deductions as were the triple Lutz in a three-jump sequence and the flip. Despite the technical errors, You won the long program and finished second overall behind the surprise winner, Marilena Kitromilis of Cyprus, by a margin of 5.47 points. “I was happy to do Autumn Classic for the first time. It was really great,” said You whose goals this season are not to get injured or to have a bad competition. “I want to do a great competition every time until the Olympics.”

Her Grand Prix assignments this year are Skate America and NHK Trophy. You said she might take on another Challenger Series event after those competitions are done, but has no formal plan to do so at this time.

Sometime later this year, she will have to return to South Korea to compete at the national championships, the qualifying event for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games. With only two spots available for women in Beijing and at least four contenders, You will have to bring her A game to those championships to have any chance of earning one of the coveted spots.