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Thread: Why is China not a power in all disciplines

  1. #31
    Like subtlety in ice dancing Serious Business's Avatar
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    The Chinese federation needs to heavily invest in Yan Han. He has so much going for himself as a skater, especially his skating skills. He has unbelievable potential, some of which are already tapped and shiny, but other bits need help. It would be a horrible waste if he doesn't get it. He needs more than just a few sessions with a good choreographer. What he needs is ongoing coaching on how to perform, how to move and how to listen to music. He also needs more exposure to a variety of performance arts. Throughout the years, the Chinese federation has squandered a lot of skaters who had so much going on technically but never got the help and inspiration in the performance department. Han can do better than most of them even without the help, but he'd do better with it and he deserves it.

    What is weird is that out of all these Chinese skaters who are way below average in performance ability, you have Sui/Han who are exceptional not just in China but in the entire world. Whatever it is that made it work for them (unless it is totally innate) needs to be noted and made use of by the Chinese federation. Is it their choreographer, former ice dancer Wei Zhang? Ice dancing may actually be fertile ground for future choreographers and coaches for the Chinese skating program. It is a discipline that emphasizes performance and immersion in a vast variety of styles. Even if Chinese ice dancers aren't as competitive as their counterparts in other disciplines, they may have valuable skills to impart. And they can't confine this sharing to just pairs. There's plenty the single skaters can learn, too, if I'm right. Sic Wei Zhang on Yan Han. Heck, stick Yan Han with Sui/Han. He can pick up performance skills from them, and Sui Wenjing can pick up better skating skills from him.

  2. #32
    Custom Title spikydurian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigsisjiejie View Post
    I think figure skating for a long time to come will be primarily a northern-based sport as it's always been. And definitely at the competitive rather than recreational level. Yes, lessons are relatively expensive relative to local incomes. Accessing ice is not easy. There is a shortage of full size ice rinks. Most rinks are smaller and in shopping malls with shopping mall hours, and are not conducive to meaningful training. Beijing, the country capital and official location of the national team, has similar climatic conditions to Chicago, USA (drier though). With an urban population 5-6 times that of Chicago, you can count the number of full sheets of year-round indoor ice all on one hand, and at least 2 of those sheets are essentially restricted to a small number of designated skaters/coaches for national elite team training. Compare that with...innumerable rinks are in greater metro Chicago that are available to general public or at least skating club members for training sessions.

    IMO, one of the biggest problems after ice access is lack of good basic skills/elementary level coaches as well as mid-level and elite singles coaches. I've watched lower level sessions where you have skaters working on anything from crossovers to basic spins and single jumps, and a critical mass of decent coaches that can nip bad habits in the bud, just isn't there yet. At the higher level of skating, there is a lack of good native choreography and packaging that works with international judges. Only the skaters/teams that have made a splash internationally have possible access to top level international choreo, which tends to make the difference between the Chinese that win intl medals vs the also-rans. Yes, the Chinese could learn a lot from importing some talent from abroad, but so far there is a reluctance to do that for levels under elite or nearly-elite skaters. It also may be an issue of finding willing imported talent to come to China for a meaningful period of time (or semi-permanently).] There are some quality of life issues that most foreigners would not be willing to put up with for more than a couple of years or so, even with a sweetened financial pot. Of course you can send skaters abroad and that has been done for short periods of time---but that doesn't build up the country's innate skating capacity.
    Thanks bigsisjiejie for the insightful information. Since you live in China your information should be more accurate than our guesses/assumptions?
    Yes, it may hard to attract highly skilled coaches to live in China for a while to train local coaches. Most of the highly skilled coaches are already sought after in their own countries so there really isn't any need to leave one own's country to earn a living unless it comes with many other perks attractive to the coach. Sending a skater overseas to train like Korea's Yuna is expensive and how many skaters can they send? So really, perhaps sending a couple of coaches to train overseas and bring the expertise back may currently still be the most practical option? Do they currently have overseas coaches in China ... particularly Russian coaches?

  3. #33
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    You can be sure there are strong forces--such as institutionalized nationalism and the protection of individual patches of turf--that work against acceptance of outsiders here. Language barrier also, but IMO that is a minor issue since it can be overcome with translators and a rudimentary specialized communication vocabulary. I'm not in a position to make absolute pronouncements, but to my knowledge, there are no foreign coaches resident in China that teach higher level skaters (and maybe not even below that level), with the exception of Lu Chen's husband, Denis Petrov. I can think of three reasons they decided to hang out their shingle in Shenzhen which is hardly a bastion of figure skating: 1) relative wealth of that region, and proximity to Hong Kong (with even more wealth). This makes it more likely to find a critical mass of skaters whose families can afford ice time and lessons and perhaps keep a rink prosperous. 2) a generally well-educated and (for China) well-travelled urban population that is probably aware of figure skating as a sport, even if they don't personally partake. 3) it's at the other end of China, where Lulu and the Chinese Skating Federation will safely not cross paths--I'm sure they have no love lost for each other, based on past history. And cemented with Mingzhu Li back in China as the designated Wonder Coach...at least for the ladies.
    Last edited by bigsisjiejie; 03-11-2012 at 03:03 PM.

  4. #34
    Custom Title spikydurian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigsisjiejie View Post
    You can be sure there are strong forces--such as institutionalized nationalism and the protection of individual patches of turf--that work against acceptance of outsiders here. Language barrier also, but IMO that is a minor issue since it can be overcome with translators and a rudimentary specialized communication vocabulary. I'm not in a position to make absolute pronouncements, but to my knowledge, there are no foreign coaches resident in China that teach higher level skaters (and maybe not even below that level), with the exception of Lu Chen's husband, Denis Petrov. I can think of three reasons they decided to hang out their shingle in Shenzhen which is hardly a bastion of figure skating: 1) relative wealth of that region, and proximity to Hong Kong (with even more wealth). This makes it more likely to find a critical mass of skaters whose families can afford ice time and lessons and perhaps keep a rink prosperous. 2) a generally well-educated and (for China) well-travelled urban population that is probably aware of figure skating as a sport, even if they don't personally partake. 3) it's at the other end of China, where Lulu and the Chinese Skating Federation will safely not cross paths--I'm sure they have no love lost for each other, based on past history. And cemented with Mingzhu Li back in China as the designated Wonder Coach...at least for the ladies.
    How silly it is to allow former differences to impede on the use of talents of former skaters. Shenzhen is known as a shopping and manufacturing (still? or have factories moved inwards and westwards) destination and I assume those who visit the rink is for more fun. Anyway without a strong coaching base and easy access it will be left to the institution to find the talents. Is Lu Chen's rink the only one in Shenzhen?

  5. #35
    Tanguera feraina's Avatar
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    Misha Ge (a talented 20-year-old skating for Uzbekistan, who gave a fabulous, rousing performance in the 4CC FS -- you have to watch it if you haven't, if just for the footwork sequence) used to live and train in China. He is in part coached by his father, Jun Ge:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Misha_Ge
    Misha is a quarter Chinese or something, I don't know if he ever considered skating for China -- apparently he did enter some smaller competitions. In any case, his father (who I'm guessing is half-Chinese) used to coach in China at a fairly high level. But they do all supposedly speak fluent Chinese, and have some Chinese heritage, so maybe it is easier for them to integrate into the Chinese skating world. On the other hand, you don't expect coaches who don't speak any Russian to thrive in Russia, or French to thrive in France, or English even in the U.S. (though U.S. is the most open system of all). So I think it's fair enough. It's probably mainly a language barrier. The only fluent Chinese-speaking foreign skating coach is probably Misha Ge's father, and I'm not sure he's interested in coaching anyone except for his son (I get the feeling he's got a day job and not a full-time coach; he and his son sometimes come to my local rink in San Diego). I can't think of anyone else. I don't know how well Karen Kwan speaks Mandarin (her family speaks Cantonese), but she did choreograph the top Chinese ladies' programs last season, probably because Mingzhu Li knows her personally and may have acted as a translator.

    I did hear that Nobuo Sato gives summer seminars in China, probably working through translators.
    Last edited by feraina; 03-12-2012 at 03:21 PM.

  6. #36
    Tanguera feraina's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spikydurian View Post
    How silly it is to allow former differences to impede on the use of talents of former skaters. Shenzhen is known as a shopping and manufacturing (still? or have factories moved inwards and westwards) destination and I assume those who visit the rink is for more fun. Anyway without a strong coaching base and easy access it will be left to the institution to find the talents. Is Lu Chen's rink the only one in Shenzhen?
    Lu Chen was a guest commentator for the figure skating events at National Winter Games a few months ago, the first time I've heard her commentate figure skating on state-owned television in years. So I'm guessing that there might be a recent thaw(ing) of relations. Minghzu Li does not seem like a vindictive or unforgiving person to me. Apparently they ran into each other a few years ago at CoC when Li went with Caroline Zhang, and Li said to the press that she was happy to see Chen, while Chen told the press that they just said a cursory hi to each other, nothing special. I feel like Chen might be the one holding a grudge all these years, though obviously she might also have been the one most hurt by the spats and so maybe most justifiably upset. In any case, having the former and only world champion (in singles) back in the competitive skating community will definitely be a good thing.

  7. #37
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    I have ALWAYS been puzzled by why China did not see a one to two Olympic cycle gap before a whole FLOCK of Chinese ladies took the scene by storm after Lu Chen. ?!?!?! Bjorn Borg spawned a generation lag time of greatness. Where was the "echo" generation post Lulu???

  8. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by sky_fly20 View Post
    the spread of wealth, its not only China, even other countries are not a power in all disciplines
    USA - has strong ladies, men and ice dance but weak pairs
    Russia - has strong ladies, ice dance, pairs but weak men
    Canada - has strong men, ice dance and pairs but weak ladies
    Japan - has strong men and ladies but weak ice dance and pairs

    its the same as other sports, like in artistic gymnastics and trampoline China is a power
    but in another gymnastics discipline China has zero success rate in rhythmic gymnastics
    I think culture plays a role too in what discipline or social changes your country can be successful
    With Plushenko's coming back, Russia will always be in medal contention in men.

  9. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bluebonnet View Post
    With Plushenko's coming back, Russia will always be in medal contention in men.
    but that doesn't give a bright future by over relying on a 30 year old man.
    seriously the men rus skating needs new blood , unless Gachinski gets more consistent
    and Kovtun transitions well. their nearest big talent is still a 13 year old Alexander Samarin.

    so Its not that good compared to the field in Japan, USA and even Chinese men skaters

  10. #40
    Custom Title skateluvr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lcd View Post
    I have ALWAYS been puzzled by why China did not see a one to two Olympic cycle gap before a whole FLOCK of Chinese ladies took the scene by storm after Lu Chen. ?!?!?! Bjorn Borg spawned a generation lag time of greatness. Where was the "echo" generation post Lulu???
    exactly. s korea is way different from china but look at the sheer number of girls' skating thanks to one woman who made the top (World champion-OLG was icing) china wants to be a powerhouse in gmnastics and makes it happen. it seems they could have made it happen in winter olympics as well. What china wants it gets these days. with Lu Chen one of the best women ever, and the powerhouse pairs program, it seems that it is all about decision, one entity to inspire. it is fun to speculate what type of skater petrov and chen might turn out from their. rink. Chen Lu-who was my choice for 1996 champion-even over an excellent Michelle. Lulu was a good as ladies gets. What a woman.

  11. #41
    Custom Title spikydurian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skateluvr View Post
    exactly. s korea is way different from china but look at the sheer number of girls' skating thanks to one woman who made the top (World champion-OLG was icing) china wants to be a powerhouse in gmnastics and makes it happen. What china wants it gets these days. with Lu Chen one of the best women ever, and the powerhouse pairs program, it seems that it is all about decision, one entity to inspire. it is fun to speculate what type of skater petrov and chen might turn out from their. rink.
    I think at that time when Lu Chen was skating, China was still a much poorer country and not as open and wealthy as today (though is still not as wealthy as developed nations on income/person basis). At one time, people were not even allowed to leave the country. I think if Lu Chen is a famous figure skater today, it would have inspired more girls and parents to take up figure skating.

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