Despite her heart problem, Dan Zhang will compete at the 23rd World University Winter Games, which is slated for Jan.17-27 in Turin, Italy. Shen & Zhao will temporarily leave the national team after the worlds; and Pang&Tong are preparing for the upcoming ‘Winter Asian Games’ despite Pang’s kidney problem.
Bin Yao told us, “Regardless of the difficulty each team is facing, we are making necessary adjustments in order to prepare for the impending competitions. We are confident about our future.”
Shen & Zhao
Q: Shen & Zhao may leave the national team temporarily to pursue other interests such as promoting figure skating in China, would you comment on their conditioning and prospect?
Yao: After all these years’ competitions, Shen & Zhao are close to perfection in terms of both their technical and artistic ability, I can say they are the current #1 team in the world. In terms of their conditioning, despite some minor flaws, it is not an exaggeration for me to say they have reached the pinnacle. They first thought about leaving the national team shortly after the Turin Olympics to promote figure skating in China. As their coach, I respect their decision to explore other aspects of their career. I believe their decision will also benefit the future development of figure skating in China. Competitive sports need to respect and encourage individual athlete’s personal choice. The current model of building national team is not necessarily the best one. I hope they will be successful in developing different tracks for selecting future talents.
Pang & Tong:
Q: After the worlds, Pang & Tong went to the U.S. for some training on a short-term basis, and they hoped to further their artistic development. How was it? Is Pang’s health condition getting better?
Yao: Pang & Tong used to have some background in ice dance. After winning the world title, they wanted to advance their strength, and we very much encouraged their thought process. Regarding Pang’s kidney problem, it is not an acute disease and it will take time (for her) to fully recover. It is normal there are twists and turns (in her recovery process). The good news is that they’ve already resumed systemic training and their overall conditioning is not bad.
Dan Zhang & Hao Zhang:
Q: Dan’s reported heart problem has really worried us. How is she now? Do you believe this pair has more potential than Shen/Zhao and Pang/Tong?
Yao: Dan’s recovery is on track and her heart condition is getting better. They have just changed skates, and resumed training according to the plan. They are going to compete at the University Winter Games soon. You can’t simply say only this team has more potential than (the others). Although all three are top teams in the world, every team has potential to explore. Competitive sport is not simple 1+1=2 mathematics, it is a multi-disciplinary science. The ability for athletes to fulfill their potential is determined by multiple factors. Which pair can eventually break out, we will have to wait and see.
The future pairs:
Q: Many people are concerned about China’s future pairs. What’s your opinion on the outlook of China’s pairs skating?
Yao: Our pairs skating has good tradition and foundation. There are a couple of young teams currently training with national team. To be honest with you, there is no standout among them at the moment, it is difficult to determine with certainty which one will eventually become our #4, #5 team. In recent days, we are reshuffling the pairing, and hopefully will find some good combinations. Although the gap between these young teams and world-class pairs is big, I am still very optimistic about their future.