U.S.-born ice dancers Alex Gamelin, Yura Min fulfill Olympic dream — for South Korea

GANGNEUNG, South Korea — American-born ice dancers Alex Gamelin and Yura Min ...

Posted: Feb 19, 2018 11:14 PM
Updated: Feb 19, 2018 11:14 PM

GANGNEUNG, South Korea — American-born ice dancers Alex Gamelin and Yura Min grabbed headlines in their Olympic debut, but for a reason they never expected: The back of Min's costume came unhooked about 20 seconds into their performance, forcing her to continue their routine while struggling to keep her top in place.

"Despite the wardrobe malfunction, it was awesome," Min said of their Olympic debut.

While they ended up in ninth place in the sport as a team, the duo from Detroit will step onto the ice on Monday for their next competition at the PyeongChang Olympics — and they will do so once again while representing South Korea.

Both Gamelin, 24, and Min, 22, were born in the United States, but attaining dual citizenship from South Korea allowed them to vie for a spot on the country's figure skating team. Min, a Korean-American from Torrance, California, has been a dual citizen since 2011.

For Gamelin, being good enough to make the South Korean squad was just half the battle. He also needed to pass the citizenship exam, which he took last year.

"I had to do some studying. I had to pass a language test," he said, adding that the citizenship interview was in Korean.

Like many other athletes who have gone to impressive lengths to compete in the Winter Olympics, they say these games are a dream fulfilled.

Their world standing qualified them to compete in the Olympics — the first time in 16 years that South Korea is being represented in ice dance. The country hasn't had qualified candidates like Min and Gamelin for ice dance since the 2002 Salt Lake Olympic Games.

Although Min said they're now seen as the "wardrobe malfunction team," they're hoping for better results in the individual competition. If they do well, they move on to the free dance on Tuesday.

It's been a long way from the Novi Ice Arena in Michigan to the Gangneung Ice Arena, where the home country crowd clapped and cheered last Sunday as Gamelin and Min entered the rink and began their sultry performance to the Latin hit "Despacito."

The idea wouldn't have become a reality if it weren't for Min convincing Gamelin to set their sights on PyeongChang.

Gamelin used to skate competitively with his twin sister, but retired in April 2015 when it was challenging to stay ahead of the competition and the sport became a financial strain on the family.

"Figure skating is one of the most expensive sports in the world. Two skaters in the family just wasn’t sustainable anymore," Gamelin said.

But he changed his mind two months later in July 2015, and returned to the sport when Min asked him to be her partner.

"He thought it was a joke," Min said.

They knew each other from the Novi Ice Arena, where they both trained but with different partners.

"His mom and dad and sister had a meeting together without Alex and confronted Alex to [convince him to] skate together," Min said about how they paired up.

But competing as a new team in an experienced and deep American field only made getting to the Olympics that much more challenging. That's why they looked to South Korea.

What Gamelin and Min decided to do is no different than other athletes who are also competing as naturalized citizens for South Korea.

"People don't realize what a hard journey it will take to get here. We're among the athletes that were lucky to make it here," Min said.

Like Gamelin, she understood the financial difficulties of remaining in the sport.

"My parents funded me my entire career. They helped me throughout all of this," she said.

To ensure that finances wouldn't be a burden, Gamelin said they have a GoFundMe page for the public to help support them from PyeongChang to Beijing, where the 2022 Winter Olympics will be held, and beyond.

Even if finances weren't an issue, Gamelin said he doesn't think his Olympic dream would've materialized for him and his sister. Just 24 teams are able to qualify for the Olympics in ice dancing.

"They work hard. They have a good attitude," one of their coaches, Igor Shpilband, said of Min and Gamelin.

Gamelin said he is proud to compete for South Korea and doesn't believe it's a "huge difference" from representing Team USA.

"It ties into the Olympic theme of peace," he said, "and that we’re really all not that different."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 319115

Reported Deaths: 7353
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22246264
Hinds20612421
Harrison18342316
Rankin13855282
Jackson13666248
Madison10213224
Lee10050176
Jones8452167
Forrest7810153
Lauderdale7253242
Lowndes6488149
Lamar632288
Lafayette6295120
Washington5412136
Bolivar4833133
Panola4659110
Oktibbeha465898
Pearl River4591146
Marshall4571105
Warren4436121
Pontotoc424573
Union415576
Monroe4154135
Neshoba4059179
Lincoln4007111
Hancock385187
Leflore3514125
Tate342386
Sunflower339391
Pike3366110
Alcorn323272
Scott319274
Yazoo313971
Adams304785
Itawamba304777
Copiah299666
Coahoma298283
Simpson297889
Tippah291168
Prentiss283361
Leake271674
Marion271280
Covington266683
Wayne264442
Grenada264087
George251851
Newton248563
Tishomingo230867
Winston229881
Jasper222048
Attala214973
Chickasaw210459
Holmes190374
Clay187454
Stone187233
Tallahatchie179941
Clarke178980
Calhoun173732
Yalobusha167740
Smith164034
Walthall135147
Greene131633
Lawrence131024
Montgomery128643
Noxubee127934
Perry126638
Amite125942
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Tunica107927
Jefferson Davis107633
Claiborne102930
Benton102225
Humphreys97533
Kemper96628
Franklin84923
Quitman81816
Choctaw79018
Wilkinson69332
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50817
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 547323

Reported Deaths: 11266
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson808021563
Mobile41925826
Madison35600522
Tuscaloosa26136458
Shelby25554254
Montgomery25067610
Baldwin21774313
Lee16234175
Calhoun14692325
Morgan14614285
Etowah14132361
Marshall12443230
Houston10748287
Elmore10295212
Limestone10180157
St. Clair10146250
Cullman9921200
Lauderdale9582248
DeKalb8955189
Talladega8441184
Walker7318279
Autauga7215113
Blount6925139
Jackson6900113
Colbert6394139
Coffee5616126
Dale4928114
Russell454441
Chilton4461116
Franklin430683
Covington4263122
Tallapoosa4117154
Escambia400280
Chambers3715123
Dallas3604156
Clarke352861
Marion3231106
Pike313978
Lawrence3121100
Winston283372
Bibb267364
Geneva256981
Marengo250565
Pickens236562
Barbour234559
Hale226578
Butler223371
Fayette217162
Henry193843
Cherokee187245
Randolph186844
Monroe179141
Washington170339
Macon163051
Clay159559
Crenshaw155057
Cleburne152543
Lamar145837
Lowndes141953
Wilcox127030
Bullock124242
Conecuh112930
Coosa111129
Perry108726
Sumter105732
Greene93434
Choctaw61725
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Partly Cloudy
74° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 74°
Columbus
Partly Cloudy
70° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 70°
Oxford
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 70°
Starkville
Partly Cloudy
68° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 68°
Dry overnight with more sunshine in store for the workweek.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather