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Olympics: Canadian coach impressed by North Korean duo

Vancouver (APP):North Korean figure skaters Ryom Tae-Ok and Kim Ju-Sik may need a helping hand from the International Olympic Committee if they are to realise their dream of competing in the Winter Olympics next month.
But experienced Canadian coach Bruno Marcotte is in no doubt that if the promising duo do end up taking part in the February 9-25 Games in Pyeongchang, they will be fully deserving of their place.
Marcotte was granted a rare glimpse of Stalinist North Korea’s sporting culture last year after coaching Ryom and Kim during eight weeks between June and August in Canada.
The 43-year-old had first noticed the duo during an appearance at the Asian Winter Games in Japan last year, where they placed third.
Marcotte made contact with the North Korean delegation to offer encouragement to the pair.
“They have very classical lines while skating to modern music, so it’s a nice mix,” Marcotte told AFP this week. “They’re very charismatic in the way they skate — a lot of emotion and a great connection with each other, so my eyes were drawn to them right away.”
That initial contact prompted further talks a few weeks later, following a 15th place finish at the World Championships in Helsinki, when a North Korean federation representative and the skaters’ coach tapped Marcotte about the possibility of the pair travelling to Canada to train.
The North Koreans — who train for around four hours a day in Pyongyang — requested coaching and choreography assistance from Marcotte during the camp.
Marcotte was required to find lodging for the athletes as well as their coach and a federation official, a former skater who would also act as translator since neither the skaters nor their coach spoke English.