Winter stars set sights on Pyeongchang

By Lu Wen’ao Source:Global Times Published: 2017/4/25 22:53:41

‘Every minute counts’ for Chinese athletes with Winter Games looming

China's elite winter sports stars have set their sights on the Pyeongchang Games with just 10 months left before the 2018 Winter Games kicks off.

Figure skating pair Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, who ended China's seven-year wait for a gold medal at the world championships after Pang Qing and Tong Jian won in 2010, said Tuesday they expect to repeat the feat in Pyeong­chang, South Korea.

"Everything will get a restart after a podium finish," newly crowned champion Sui said at a promotional event in Beijing for credit card giant VISA, one of the major sponsors of the International Olympic Committee. "And next year we are having an Olympics, we need to be fully prepared for it. Every minute counts."

The duo were congratulated by Chinese President Xi Jinping after they finished in first place at the Helsinki worlds, just two days ahead of Xi's state visit to Finland.

Sui only returned to competition in February at the Four Continents Championships in South Korea after recovering from major ankle surgery. The duo won gold at the event, which was held in the venue set to host the Olympic competition next year in Pyeongchang's nearby city Gangneung.

Compared to their strong presence at the Summer Games, Chinese athletes have only won 15 gold medals in the Winter Games since the country first competed in 1980. Nine of the 15 golds came from short-track speed skating, but none of the nine golds were won by male Chinese skaters.

Han Tianyu, silver medalist at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games in men's short-track speed skating, said he expects to make a breakthrough in Pyeong­chang.

The 20-year-old rose to fame after a stunning performance in Sochi, followed by four golds at the 2016 world championships in Seoul. But he said the year was too smooth for him, raising fears that he might be a "shooting star."

"I don't want to be a one-time wonder," he said. "With only 10 months to the Winter Games, I hope I can do solid training every day then I can do my best in Pyeongchang … I hope I can make a breakthrough there."

Zhang Yiwei, silver medalist at the 2015 worlds, is the world's first snowboarder to pull off a triple cork in a half-pipe competition.

The 25-year-old also won gold at the Asian Winter Games earlier this year in Sapporo, Japan. As China longs for another medal in snow sports at the Winter Games, many have pinned their hopes on Zhang, who finished sixth at Sochi.

"Snowboarding makes people feel freedom, but it is also brutal - it's like everything will be decided in about 20 seconds," Zhang said of the competition.

"But the podium is not only for me … Currently there're only 10 Chinese boarders capable of finishing on the podium next year, including me; we challenged ourselves and we did it. Now we are pushing the limits."


blog comments powered by Disqus