Coach "Klopp" Shen's aerials skiers shine at National Winter Games-Xinhua

Coach "Klopp" Shen's aerials skiers shine at National Winter Games

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2024-02-24 21:17:15

by sportswriters Yao Youming, Ji Jiadong and Wang Xuebing

HOHHOT, Feb. 24 (Xinhua) -- After sweeping three golds in youth aerials at China's 14th National Winter Games on Saturday, Hebei coach Shen Shuai dashed down from the landing zone, fists pumping in a celebratory gesture reminiscent of Liverpool FC manager Jurgen Klopp's iconic moves.

"I am trying to have a tough guy image facing my young skiers," the big beard man who looks like Jurgen told Xinhua. After taking pictures with Chinese rising aerials stars in the victory ceremony, the 34-year-old shared his tips for coaching his skiers.

The Hebei aerials team was established in 2016. During a visit to a sports school in Baoding city, Hebei Province, Shen spotted 9-year-old Yu Shengzhe's natural talent.

"He can make his body have a good mood in the air; what's more, compared with his mates, he has an outstanding ability to adjust in landing. I decided to bring Yu to our newly-established provincial team," Shen said.

To propel these talented youngsters to the National Games podium, Shen devised a rigorous training regimen.

"Our skiers not only had skills training classes, but also had physical training classes each day. The tough training had proven effective in rapidly improving our athletes' performances," Shen said.

Besides Yu, Shen had many other good students, including Chen Xuezheng and Liu Xuanchi.

In the aerials competitions of the National Winter Games, the 15-year-old Chen won two gold medals. Liu represented the Shaanxi team and won a bronze medal at the women's aerials event, even outscoring Beijing 2022 champion Xu Mengtao.

"It is too hard for the teenage skiers to have self-discipline. So I made many rules for our team," Shen said.

In the Hebei team, the young skiers had to hand in all their mobile phones at 9 pm and then go to bed within the hour.

"There are too many temptations in the internet for my skiers. In their spare times, watching films and playing computer games are allowed, but everyone should obey my rules," Shen told Xinhua.

In Yu's eyes, Coach Shen asked him to stay focused on many vivid details in a ski resort.

"My coach was not satisfied with any ordinary performances in training sessions; he kept letting us notice the skills that could bring high scores to us," Yu said.

The Zhalantun venue's strong winds posed challenges for many competitors, including Olympic champion Xu and medalist Jia Zongyang, leading to unstable landings. The pressure of the Games nearly overwhelmed Xu, bringing her to tears on Friday.

Despite the unpredictable weather, Shen's philosophy remains consistent.

"Although the weather conditions are changing, we treated the changes with constancy," Shen said.

"We have stable finishes in the competitions. Because we have practiced time and time again in these years," said Chen.

Shen, much like Klopp, is a constant presence at the side of the venue, energetically supporting his athletes.

"I'd like to pass my mental power to them and boost their confidence," Shen said.

"Kloop" Shen didn't want to talk about his ambitions or his future plans, but his students had eyed beyond the national stage.

"I will keep improving my level in order to participate in the Milan-Cortina 2026 Olympics," said Yu.