Preview: China aims for gold as Olympic figure skating meets Year of the Tiger-Xinhua

Preview: China aims for gold as Olympic figure skating meets Year of the Tiger

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2022-01-28 22:00:16

Sui Wenjing (L)/Han Cong of China pose during the pairs medal ceremony of the International Skating Union's (ISU) Grand Prix of Figure Skating in Turin, Italy, on Nov. 7, 2021. (Xinhua/Jin Mamengni)

Sui Wenjing/Han Cong and Peng Cheng/Jin Yang are China's medal hopefuls in figure skating at Beijing 2022, which will also see Japanese star Yuzuru Hanyu chase for his third Olympic gold.

BEIJING, Jan. 28 (Xinhua) -- In three days, China will welcome the Lunar New Year of the Tiger, and three more days after that sees the opening of Beijing 2022 as well as the beginning of figure skating competitions.

For the Chinese fans, the Year of the Tiger seems to be special for figure skating. In the last Year of the Tiger, Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo won China's first Olympic gold medal of the event in Vancouver. And 24 years ago, China's first figure skating world champion Chen Lu brought back her second bronze medal from Nagano Olympic Games in Japan.

In the upcoming lunar new year, the Chinese figure skating team will also fight to regain the top step of the podium in Beijing.

File photo taken on Feb. 15, 2010 shows gold medalists Shen Xue (2nd L) and Zhao Hongbo (1st L) of China, compatriots and silver medalists Pang Qing (2nd R) and Tong Jian posing with the Chinese national flag during the medals ceremony for the figure skating pairs event at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada. (Xinhua/Chen Xiaowei)


Chinese pairs skaters Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, the two-time world champions and 2018 Winter Olympic runners-up, will look to go up a notch on home ice. Four years ago, they missed the gold by a mere 0.43 points in PyeongChang.

After the PyeongChang Olympics, the duo sat out the 2018 Grand Prix as Sui recovered from a stress fracture in her foot, while Han underwent surgery on the hip in 2020.

For the current season, Sui/Han used the music "Bridge Over Troubled Water" again, with which they claimed the world championships pairs title for the first time in 2017. According to the pair, their mutual support has become a "bridge" between them, and the re-edited song matches their experience of growing stronger together despite injuries.

"It is not only a bridge between us, but also the one connecting us with the audience, referees, and also other teammates," Sui noted.

Sui Wenjing (R)/Han Cong of China perform during the Gala Exhibition of the International Skating Union's (ISU) Grand Prix of Figure Skating in Turin, Italy, on Nov. 7, 2021. (Xinhua/Jin Mamengni)

Last year, Sui/Han triumphed at the Grand Prix of Figure Skating series in Canada and Italy, and they are now in full swing preparing for the Winter Olympics.

As shown by the latest world rankings, Sui/Han and another Chinese figure skating pair Peng Cheng and Jin Yang are in third and fifth place respectively. However, reigning world and European champions Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov of the Russian Skating Union are also promising gold medal prospects in Beijing.

As for the other figure skating events, China is still a long way from the podium.

Peng Cheng (L)/Jin Yang of China compete during the Pairs' Short Program at the International Skating Union (ISU) Grand Prix of Figure Skating in Turin, Italy, on Nov. 5, 2021. (Xinhua/Jin Mamengni)


The upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics may also witness breakthroughs in figure skating history.

Two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu has been practicing for years on the quadruple axel, which nobody has been able to pull off in competition. Last December, Hanyu tried it in the Japanese national championships but landed with two feet.

Hanyu will fight for his third successive Olympic crown, while three-time world champion, American-born-Chinese Nathan Chen will also be a strong competitor for the pole.

Chen placed 17th after his faltering short program in PyeongChang, but climbed back to fifth overall with his free skate. Desperate for an Olympic medal, the 22-year-old took an academic break from university to devote himself to full-time training.

Hanyu Yuzuru competes during the men's free skating competition of the All-Japan Figure Skating Championships in Saitama, Dec. 26, 2021. (Xinhua/Zhang Xiaoyu)

In the women's event, Russian skater Kamila Valieva is the top favorite for the Olympic Winter Games. The 15-year-old bagged the gold medal in this month's European Championships, and she is also the women's world record-holder for the short program, free skate and combined scores.

Valieva's compatriots, world champion Anna Shcherbakova and Alexandra Trusova will also make their Olympic debuts in Beijing. Meanwhile, Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, the silver medallist at the 2021 World Championships, was named as a substitute.

As for the ice dance, four-time world champions Gabriella Papadakis/Guillaume Cizeron of France will bid for their first Olympic gold, four years after their wardrobe malfunction. 


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