Chinese speed skaters hoping to shine on home ice
Published: Nov 06, 2023 09:46 PM
China's speed skating team holds an open training session in Beijing on Monday. Photo: Wu Jie

China's speed skating team holds an open training session in Beijing on Monday. Photo: Wu Jie

The head coach of China's speed skating team said that she has been trying to instill a champion mentality among the young athletes, as the team held an open training session at the Capital Skating Oval in Beijing on Monday.

The team has been gearing up for the 2023-2024 ISU Speed Skating World Cup, an international tournament consisting of six events. The season begins on Friday in Obihiro, Japan and will end on February 4 in Quebec City, Canada. The skater with the most points in a given distance at the end of the series is the World Cup winner in that distance.

Chinese skaters will leave for Japan on Tuesday for the first leg of the world cup series and they are excited to make their mark in the second leg which will take place at Beijing's National Speed Skating Oval, or "Ice Ribbon," from November 17-19.

Li Yan, the head coach, told the Global Times that she expects more young players will make breakthroughs in the new season.

"We've been working hard to improve the overall strength of the team in the past year. We want to develop the champion mindset within our team in practice and competition," said Li.

The team is led by Gao Tingyu, who broke the Olympic record to win the men's 500m in the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games. It was also China's first gold medal in men's speed skating in the Winter Olympic Games. 

In addition to the short distance, China has made up ground in the medium- and long-distance races. In the 2023-24 season, four Chinese skaters have qualified for each of the women's 500m, 1000m, 1500m, 3000m and 5000m events. In the men's 500m, 1000m and 1500m, four skaters have also secured their spots respectively. 

Meanwhile, two skaters will compete in the men's 5,000m and 10,000m, the events for which China failed to qualify in the Beijing Winter Olympic Games. 

"We have realized our primary goals of having more male skaters participating in international long-distance events and improving women's long-distance results. Our objective is to forge ahead and change the status quo and we will take it one step at a time," Li noted. "We are also enhancing the athletes' capability of competing in multiple events, which is a trend of speed skating development."

Foreign coaches Jan Bos from the Netherlands and Alexander Rumyantsev from Russia also joined the team to help the skaters.

Li Qishi, who took her first world cup victory in 2014, told the Global Times after training that the participation of more young skaters has given fresh impetus to the team. 

"I think this is good for the development of speed skating in China. With more young skaters to compete in international events, there will be opportunities to create better results," said Li, adding that she has improved her starting recently. 

Young skater Liu Bin told the Global Times that Gao has set a good example of self-discipline and he will try to find his feet in the coming event. 

The world cup in Beijing is the first major international tournament held at the "Ice Ribbon" since the Beijing Winter Olympic Games. 

As one of the legacies of Beijing 2022, the "Ice Ribbon" has opened to the public after the Games.  

"I look forward to our skaters achieving better results on the home ice and we're excited to revisit the fast and furious atmosphere created by the cutting-edge venue," Li said. 

Taking advantage of the legacy of Beijing 2022, more international winter sports events have come to China and provided young skaters with opportunities to progress. 

The ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final will take place in Beijing from December 7 to 10. Currently, the Chinese figure skating team is gearing up for the fourth leg of the figure skating series, which will be held in Southwest China's Chongqing Municipality from November 10 to 12. 

Meanwhile, the third leg of the 2023-24 ISU Short Track Speed Skating World Cup will take place in Beijing from December 8 to 10. China's short track speed skaters wrapped up the first two legs with four golds, one silver and one bronze. 

Olympic champion Su Yiming will take part in the second leg of the 2023/2024 FIS Freestyle Skiing and Snowboard Big Air World Cup, which will be held at Shougang Big Air in Beijing from November 30 to December 2.

The 2024 Four Continents Figure Skating Championships will take place in Shanghai from January 30 to February 4, 2024.