Choi Da-bin emerged as the rising star of Korean figure skating when she won the women's singles at the Asian Winter Games in Obihiro, Japan on Saturday.
Choi scored 187.54 points -- 61.30 in the short program and 126.24 in the free skate -- to finish more than 10 points ahead of the silver medalist, Li Zijun of China, and become the first Korean figure skater to win gold in the Asian Winter Games.
Superstar Kim Yu-na has never competed at the Asian Games.
Choi took up the sport while watching Kim become a world-known figure skater but struggled for some time after a brief moment in the spotlight and has only recently shown remarkable growth.
After beating her previous best with a score of 182.41 points at the ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in Gangneung, Gangwon Province a week ago, she set a new personal best on Saturday.
Originally she wasn't even qualified for the Asian Games, finishing fifth in a national trial in October last year, edged out by Kim Na-hyun and Park So-youn. But first placer You Young was eliminated because she is only 13, and when Park withdrew from the event due to an ankle injury at the end of last year, Choi had her spot.
She will compete at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Helsinki, Finland in late March as a replacement for Kim, who also injured her ankle.
If she finishes within the top 10, Korea can secure two spots in the women's singles at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. Skaters below the top 10 will bring their countries only one ticket to the Olympics.
Choi Da-bin performs at the free-skating event in the Asian Winter Games in Sapporo on Saturday. /Yonhap
Figure skating star Kim Yu-na and Choi Da-bin 10 years ago (right) and early last year /Yonhap