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Beijing meet helps China sharpen up for Olympics

By Sun Xiaochen | China Daily | Updated: 2017-10-13 08:04

With the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics approaching, China's figure skating team vows to make the most of the home Grand Prix to technically and emotionally fine-tune routines aimed at achieving golden results in South Korea.

Team China is in its final preparations for the Nov 4-5 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating China Cup at Beijing's Capital Gymnasium.

The third stop of the six-event international series will feature 60 skaters from 11 countries, competing for medals in men's and women's singles, pairs and ice dance. Team China is led by world champion pair Han Cong and Sui Wenjing and men's singles world championship bronze medalist Jin Boyang. "The event is a very important assessment for us in terms of how should we continue to improve for the ultimate test at Pyeongchang," head coach Zhao Hongbo told China Daily on Wednesday.

"Our skaters have been gradually improving the degree of difficulty and competitive form of their routines since the summer camp opened in May. They still need to work on consistency, technical details and artistic presentation through more drills in official competitions. The China Grand Prix will serve as a timely test."

As one of China's gold medal prospects at Pyeongchang, Han and Sui tweaked their choreography after winning their first gold at the world championships in Finland in March.

"We've gained a better understanding of how to project our emotions and roles in the routine. I think through the Grand Prix in Beijing, fans will be able to see the improvements based on our previous world championship performance," said the 24-year-old Han.

After winning the worlds, Sui and Han traveled to Canada for training sessions with world-renowned choreographer Lori Nichol and have been polishing their routine, which is based on the famous Italian opera Turandot.

As China's most promising pair after the retirement of Zhao and his wife Shen Xue, who won China's first Olympic gold medal in figure skating at Vancouver in 2010, Han and Sui struggled due to a lack of consistency after finishing second at the worlds in 2015 and 2016.

The pair's strong comeback after Sui underwent surgeries on both ankles last May peaked at the world championship and has rekindled their confidence to end China's eight-year Olympic gold medal drought on the ice.

"Technically and emotionally, I think they are already a better pair than we were in

2010," said Zhao, who retired with Shen in 2010 and was appointed the head coach of the national team in June.

"They just need to stay composed ahead of the big challenge. Mental stability is what matters for them to deliver their best. Once they can do it, the result will take care of itself."

The Czech pair of Anna Duskova and Martin Bidar, who won gold at the world youth championships, loom as a legitimate threat to Han and Sui at the Beijing competition.

In the men's singles competition, Jin, who won a bronze medal at the world championships, will face tough challenges from Spain's two-time world champion Javier Fernandez and rising star Mikhail Kolyada of Russia.

On the women's side, homegrown prodigies Li Xiangning and Li Zijun will be expected to gain valuable experience against 2015 world champion Elizaveta Tuktamysheva of Russia and defending champ Elena Radionova.

sunxiaochen@chinadaily.com.cn

Beijing meet helps China sharpen up for Olympics

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