A figure skating coach from Montreal may have played a small role in easing tensions between the two Koreas after helping a pair of potential North Korean Olympians flourish.
With North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s nuclear threats looming over the competition, the country is now reportedly considering sending two of its athletes, last minute, to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
The figure skating pair Ryom Tae-ok and Kim Ju-sik spent the summer training in Montreal and are the only North Korean athletes who qualified for the Winter Olympics.
The pair flourished under the watchful eye of Bruno Marcotte, the 43-year-old skating coach and former World Junior bronze medallist from Montreal.
They all met at the World Figure Skating Championships last year.
“They approached me and at first they just wanted some advice on what they should do to be a better team,” Marcotte said. “But that led to an off-ice lift class.”
More serious meetings about studying under Marcotte followed.
Canadian figure skater Meagan Duhamel, Marcotte’s wife, is also competing at the Games in hopes of snagging her first Olympic medal.
Following training with Marcotte and mastering choreography with the help of his sister Julie, they were able to secure a spot at the Games while skating to Quebec artist Ginette Reno’s Je ne suis qu’une chanson in Germany last September.
While there aren’t any guarantees of Ryom and Kim being sent across the border to compete in South Korea, Marcotte said he would love if the pair could attend the Olympics.
He said a lot of people focus on the politics of the situation and not the talent of these two skaters.
“This is a good team. A team that earned the right [to compete],” Marcotte said.
The world watches
This weekend an International Olympic Committee representative for North Korea said the country will likely compete at the Games next month, according to Japanese media reports.
Both South Korea and U.S. President Donald Trump have heralded North Korea’s potential participation as a step forward in mending tense relations on the peninsula.
Under his leadership, South Korean President Moon Jae-in has been pushing to build a better relationship with North Korea and invited the nation to participate in the Games.
The two Koreas will hold a rare discussion at the border starting Tuesday, exactly one month…