Skate expectations for China's speedsters

By SUN XIAOCHEN | China Daily | Updated: 2023-12-06 09:51
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Olympic champion Ren Ziwei makes his highly anticipated return to international competition at this week's Beijing leg of the ISU World Cup series. AN LINGJUN/FOR CHINA DAILY

Head coach Zhang Jing, though, insists that it's too soon for the new-look roster to reach full speed, given the lack of chemistry within a group that is still in the process of gelling.

"We've built a little bit of an advantage in relays after the first two World Cup events, but we are just competing together in our first season, with some veterans only joining this week. We are still not at full strength collectively," said Zhang, who took the Team China reins in summer last year after completing a 10-year stint with the Hungarian national program.

The Liu brothers, Zhang's longtime proteges on the Hungarian squad, have emerged as Team China's new leaders since they switched allegiance last year to represent their father's home nation, largely due to the trust they have established with Zhang.

Teaming up with Lin and youngsters such as Sun Long, Gong Li and Zang Yize, the brothers helped China snatch back-to-back 2,000m mixed relay titles in the first two World Cup meets, as well as gold in the men's 5,000m relay in the second leg.

Despite taking a mandatory 12-month international break with his older brother to complete the national team switch, Liu Shaoang, the reigning 500m Olympic champion, proved he's as sharp as ever by winning the sprint final in the second leg in Montreal.

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