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Olympic champion Sui's got all the right moves

Updated: 2024-02-28 08:12
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Sui Wenjing

In the figure skating arena at China's 14th National Winter Games, Olympic champion Sui Wenjing wasn't gliding across the ice but standing beside the rink.

At the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, Sui and Han Cong clinched gold in pairs figure skating in a landmark triumph for Chinese figure skating on the Olympic stage, following in the footsteps of Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo's win at Vancouver 2010.

Since then, Sui has not taken part in competitive figure skating and has instead embarked on various new roles: becoming a choreographer, director and writer, as well as pursuing a master's degree. Despite stepping away from competition, she came back to her beloved rink as she continues to forge a new path.

Reflecting on her journey, Sui reminisced about the pivotal moment in 2015 when Canadian Lori Nichol piqued her interest in becoming a professional choreographer.

"I saw her working with such passion and creativity, and I thought, isn't this my dream too?" said Sui. "I want to weave dreams through my creativity, assisting athletes in creating a better future."

Now Sui's dreams have come true. Over the past two years, Sui has choreographed programs for single skaters, pairs and synchronized teams. She is developing a unique choreography style by imbuing her routines with Chinese cultural elements.

In September 2023, when Chinese pair Shi Wenning and Wang Zhiyu debuted at the ISU Junior Grand Prix, Sui boldly incorporated ethnic music of China into their program. Despite initial concerns about international judges' understanding of the cultural elements, their performance yielded a medal.

"I think people can relate to good art. International judges and the world will gradually understand our Chinese culture," said Sui.

Looking ahead, Sui aspires to continue learning and creating more profound programs featuring Chinese culture. She is also directing young figure skaters, helping them to perform with greater expression and personality on the ice.

The Olympic champion has had her hands full over the past two years — from publishing her autobiography to studying various forms of dance, obtaining a national-level figure skating technical expert certificate and delving into piano playing and music theory.

Sui once delivered a speech about her story, with a student's reaction impressing her a lot. "After I shared my story about the Olympics, she hugged me and said, 'You go ahead, I'll be right there.' I was so moved," revealed Sui, adding that she believes her creativity and passion can ignite a spark in young hearts, even if it is just the tiniest bit of encouragement toward chasing their dreams.

On the other side of the rink, her former skating partner Han was seated in the technical officials' stand, diligently grading each competitor. Once hand-in-hand on the ice, now seated at opposite ends, their dedication to a shared vision of figure skating remains unwavering.


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