left corner left corner
China Daily Website

China eyes aerials Olympic golds in Sochi

Updated: 2012-01-12 10:54
( Xinhua)

JILIN, Northeast China - Despite the retirement of seasoned Olympians Han Xiaopeng and Li Nina, the Chinese freestyle aerials team is expecting a golden haul in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games.

"Our goal is the top podium at Sochi Games. It is the aim of every skier and coach in our team," said Yan Xiaojuan, team leader of the Chinese aerials team, during the ongoing 12th Chinese national Winter Games.

In spite of the fact that both Han and Li, China's most famous skiers who earned one Olympic gold and two silvers, had quitted the national team after the 2010 Winter Olympics, Yan's ambition is not a castle in the air.

After the 2006 Turin Games, where Han made history by winning the China's first Olympic gold in skiing events, China's sports administrations have paid special attention to the aerials team. More and more young skiers were sent to international arenas to gain experience and they have been making encouraging progress in return.

The 21-year-old Qi Guangpu finished on top of the men's World Cup standings in 2011 and also notched a sliver in the 2011 World Ski Championships in Deer Valley, USA. Cheng Shang and Xu Mengtao led a 1-2 finish in the women's World Cup standings as well as the 2011 worlds.

Teenage skiers like Zhou Hang, Kong Fanyu and Xu Sicun also started to find their places in the national team, occasionally cutting a figure in international events.

The emerging of young competitive skiers also raised the level of competition in the National Winter Games. The four individual titles were split by four different skiers, with the margin between the podium finishers being very close.

Vancouver Olympic bronze medallist Liu Zongqing rallied to win the men's free title by 0.262 points. The women's free title was claimed by Xu Mengtao, sixth finisher in Vancouver who sealed the victory with two perfect jumps. Defending champion Cheng Shuang also delivered two successful jumps but failed to reach the podium due to the relatively low difficulty degrees.

"The competitions at the National Winter Games were all very thrilling and at a high level. Any tiny mistakes may lead to a huge slide in the final standings," said Ji Dong, coach of China's national aerials team.

"The Chinese young skiers are making fast progress. It has been a while since I watched their competitions last time. I was really surprised by their performance. And I am really proud of them," said Han Xiaopeng while watching the Winter Games.

"The most important thing is they will never fight alone, because both in the men's and women's events, China now have several skiers who have the ability to win a gold in world events. I think in the Sochi Olympics, China have a big chance," he said.

And Han's optimism was echoed by Li Nina, who captured two silvers in Turin and Vancouver Games.

"After Han and I left the national team, young athletes got more chances to show themselves. It looks like that the competitive young skiers suddenly came from nowhere. But in fact they all have received years of systematic training and it is time for them to take the stage," said Li.

Hot Topics

The mudslide occurred at an iron ore mine in the Araltobe township of Xinyuan county, Ili Kazak autonomous prefecture, a spokesman for the prefecture's fire brigade said.