In this Associated Press photo, South Korean Cha Jun-hwan performs his short program at the International Skating Union World Junior Figure Skating Championships in Taipei City, Chinese Taipei, on March 15, 2017. (Yonhap)
SEOUL, March 15 (Yonhap) — South Korean teen figure skater Cha Jun-hwan ranked second in the short program with a new personal best score at the junior world championships on Wednesday.
Cha scored 82.34 points to open the International Skating Union (ISU) World Junior Figure Skating Championships in Taipei City, Chinese Taipei. Cha sits 1.14 points behind the leader, Dmitri Aliev of Russia.
Aliev won the ISU Junior Grand Prix Final in December, with Cha finishing third at the time.
Another Russian, Alexander Samarin, finished in third with 82.23 points. Samarini was the runner-up to Aliev at the Junior Grand Prix Final.
Cha’s previous career-high in the short program was 79.34 points, scored while winning the ISU Junior Grand Prix in Yokohama, Japan, last September.
Cha scored 81.83 points en route to winning the South Korean national title in January, but the score wasn’t recognized by the ISU.
The 15-year-old is trying to become the South Korean male figure skater to win a medal at the junior worlds. The free skate is scheduled for Thursday.
Cha opened his program, set to music from the sound track to “A Chorus Line,” with a clean triple lutz-triple toe loop combination. He followed that up with another clean jump, a triple axel.
Midway through his routine, Cha nailed his triple loop, and closed it out with strong step sequence and spin moves.
A second South Korean in the field, Lee Si-hyeong, ranked 15th with 67.51 points, his own personal best.