Chinese Skating News, Pt. 3: A long & winding road to Beijing 2022

feraina

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I’m happy to see Zhang Dan doing so well. She coached for a few years then opened up a rink with a friend. She’s responsible for managing and training basic-level coaches. She’s also doing ice theater and starred in a production last year loosely based on her own life. She has a really cute 3.5 year old daughter (click article for picture), whom she has coached for a year and thinks she has some natural talent. She said she always had issues with Zhang Hao and they could never agree on anything but she refused to go into details about why she decided to quit when she did — except to say she thought about it carefully for a while.

And I left out out the most important part: she said she was aimless for a while after retiring, and was forced to go back to coaching because she had to make a living, but it felt just like being a skater and brought back a lot of negative memories. But she’s very happy with the rink business, as managing coaches takes totally different skills and mindset. She also really enjoys ice theater. And she’s clearly in love with her daughter and is happy to spend about 60-70% of her energy and time on work and the rest on her daughter. She just sounds really happy. :)
 
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feraina

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Why did they split? Is the Chinese Fed finally going to let Zhang retire?
I don’t know why anyone would assume the fed is pressuring Zhang Hao to stay. Zhang Dan had no problem retiring when she did. The article on Yu mentioned that due to Age and health issues Zhang Hao has been ‘taking it easy’ for a long time.
 

Marco

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Rough paraphrasing of Yu Xiaoyu's post

She said she had always been an obedient and hardworking kid to earn recognition and not let down those who had hopes for her. She wasn't confident as a kid because she felt she didn't have talent, and only opened up more after she moved to Harbin for juniors training and got close to her training mates and after she had competed more.

When she moved back to Beijing to train as a senior national team member, she received better training resources but she felt increased burden on her as the former seniors and other training mates from juniors were no longer on the scene. Still, she continued to train and improve herself, until suddenly one day she was told about the partner swap - quite shocking for her since she had just been discussing music for the new season with her then partner the day before. Still, there was an urgency to move on to prep for the new season, and she didn't even know how to react to the change - so, with multiple parties persuading her, she and partner simply forced themselves to accept to the change and focused back onto training.

As she grew, she was learning more about the darker side of skating that co-existed with the glory of the sport. She had no regrets over the past because she had tried her best - some gains, some losses. She also wasn't going to blame or avenge others for the difficulties she faced - she was at peace with the past and looks ahead to the future. She admitted to being confused about her future because it wasn't within her control, but she had resolved not to be obsessed over something she couldn't control. She said there was no absolute right or wrong, and there were many people being unfairly treated. Many people would do harmful things to protect their own interests without feeling guilty, and those being harmed might be justified in fighting back.

People might do crazy things when they couldn't control their emotions, but there would always be a reason behind those things, even if others might not understand. No one could stay out when troubles came, but must still make decisions calmly. As to things that had already happened and could not be reversed, she would prefer not to dwell but focus on happier nor meaningful things instead.

She said it's difficult for people to understand other people's minds, but more important to understand their own's, and learn to accept. Life was always going to be full of problems but she believed a person's value should be based on what s/he made of it. She was still under the SYSTEM and couldn't decide everything based on her own will, and always had to be careful with what she said, she wasn't even sure if what she had said here might cause trouble - but she had always stood by her own belief, no matter how difficult things turned out to be. She said she would live her life beautifully and create her own worth.
 

Japanfan

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I don’t know why anyone would assume the fed is pressuring Zhang Hao to stay.

Maybe because high caliber male skaters are hard to find? Whereas there is always a line-up of female skaters available to such a male skater.

Though of course I'm just speculating.
 
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binbinwinwin

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From what I read Hao Zhang has not been training at all (presumably due to injuries he has sustained over the years) and joined the Beijing Sport University as a teacher since December 2019 I believe. Someone said that Xie Zhong has already paired up with someone else and not Xiaoyu so I don't think Xiaoyu has a future left tbh...
 

casken

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What happened to Yu and Jin was unforgivable, and it always frustrated me how little play their story got here on FSU. There was more :angryfire:angryfire:angryfire:drama::drama::drama: over Evan Bates voluntarily choosing to leave Samuelson for Chock, with people insisting they would never root for C&B. (That only lasted until C&B became US #1's, of course :rolleyes: )

Yu is a star and always will be to me. There is nothing more in skating right now that I want than for her to get a second chance at the sport, if not with Jin, then with a partner who can match her. She should be a world champion.
 

Gris

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Does anyone know if XIE still skating with Chelsea Liu 刘家希 (LIU Jiaxi) or someone new?

It's not officially confirmed, but there has been rumor for months saying that they had split and Chelsea had returned to the US.
 

hanca

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I don’t think it would be impossible for Chinese federation to find a suitable partner for Yu. However, I am not sure if it is their priority. In the recent years Chinese federation has done quite well, having constantly two or three teams in top ten. And then suddenly it went all somehow wrong, as if they stopped caring. Of course, no one can do anything about injuries, and they still have Sui/Han (who are quite frequently injured), and they have Peng/Jin (who are not very consistent and haven’t managed to get on the world podium yet). However, there are no junior pairs coming through and if injury forces Sui/Han to retire, it may be the end of Chinese pairs. It is as if the federation stopped caring about pairs.
 

clairecloutier

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I recall people being pissed in 2016 when rumors of the switch spread here. It has subsided of course, but there was definitely a lot of rage!


A lot of us were definitely quite upset about it at the time. There were other people who were like "The federation knows best" and "Trust the coaches." And for a time, it did seem like everything might work out, but I can only assume that injuries and age finally caught up with Hao Zhang, plus other problems.

I feel terrible for Xiaoyu Yu, as she was a favorite of mine. I would still love to see her back on the ice, but sadly, I don't know as it's going to happen.

I have to say that, for me, the net effect of the whole partner-swap thing has been to disengage with Chinese skating, from a fan point of view. It's just hard to get invested in Chinese skaters when you never know how long they will be allowed to skate on the international scene, or, if they are withdrawn from competition, why.
 

Theatregirl1122

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What happened to Yu and Jin was unforgivable, and it always frustrated me how little play their story got here on FSU. There was more :angryfire:angryfire:angryfire:drama::drama::drama: over Evan Bates voluntarily choosing to leave Samuelson for Chock, with people insisting they would never root for C&B. (That only lasted until C&B became US #1's, of course :rolleyes: )

Oh please. :rolleyes: There was tons of rage about it at the time and there has continued to be anger over it for years afterwards. There were comments on it every time Yu and Zhang skated.
 

miffy

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There definitely was outrage. And lots of rooting for the ‘leftovers’ even when it seemed they weren’t going to be very successful. I am thrilled Peng and Jin have now been so successful and I really hope they will medal at Worlds and the Olympics. I still think they were robbed of bronze in 2019.
I do feel sad for Yu :( It’s not like the swap was her choice. It seemed to be purely done for Zhang.
 

casken

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Oh please. :rolleyes: There was tons of rage about it at the time and there has continued to be anger over it for years afterwards. There were comments on it every time Yu and Zhang skated.
I've seen more comments how it "worked out for the best" becuase people have grown attached to the novelty of "The Leftovers", aka Peng/Jin.
 

hanca

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I've seen more comments how it "worked out for the best" becuase people have grown attached to the novelty of "The Leftovers", aka Peng/Jin.
It may be because Peng is more expressive than Yu, so personally I tend to prefer Peng. So if there is only one guy left, I am glad he is skating with the girl I prefer. Is it fair to Yu? Perhaps not, but it is not my fault that she is not expressive enough and that’s why I am not her fan. I don’t wish her anything bad; I just don’t particularly love her skating.
 

MacMadame

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I've seen more comments how it "worked out for the best" becuase people have grown attached to the novelty of "The Leftovers", aka Peng/Jin.
So our rage subsided because of schadenfreude. And it subsided for Chock & Bates too, either because they started doing well or because they finally got some programs that made them stand out (depending on your POV). That doesn't mean people weren't enraged at the time.
 

raruki

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What I have known about the controversy of swapping partner in 2016.

1, Yang Jin had already known that he would swap the partners before they went to Canada for the new programs, and even there were rumours saying that Jin insisted that he want to find a new partner coz he was not able to lift Yu anymore. What's more, even Cheng Peng and Hao Zhang had already known they would swap the partners. Therefore, only Xiaoyu Yu didn't know that she had to skate with Hao Zhang before they went to Canada.

2, The decision was made by S/Z purely. After 2015-2016 season, Sui had her surgery on her both feet and for sure She had to skip nearly the whole season. S/Z were afraid that S/H would probably not maintain the momentum and the physical level when they came back, so they had to form a new strong pair among their remaining athletes. Xiaoyu Yu and Hao Zhang were technically stronger than Peng and Jin, and S/Z decided that they should skate together. (I can understand their intentions behind the decision, but the way they treated to Yu was totally unacceptable)
 

Gris

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Guess we were all hearing from the same source since that's consistent with what I've heard too.

I have to say that, for me, the net effect of the whole partner-swap thing has been to disengage with Chinese skating, from a fan point of view. It's just hard to get invested in Chinese skaters when you never know how long they will be allowed to skate on the international scene, or, if they are withdrawn from competition, why.

I now have very little respect for Shen and Zhao after this series of sh!tshows. I wasn't their biggest fan when they were competing but had a lot of respect for them then and they were the first figure skaters I knew. Now... :rolleyes:
 

Sylvia

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Thanks for the hearsay info re. XIE Zhong, @Gris and @binbinwinwin - let us know if you come across the name of his reportedly new partner.
I feel terrible for Xiaoyu Yu, as she was a favorite of mine. I would still love to see her back on the ice, but sadly, I don't know as it's going to happen.
Me too... fingers crossed she might find a suitable partner sooner rather than later. Thank you for the summary of her words, @Marco, and the excerpts, @raruki.
 
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raruki

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Guess we were all hearing from the same source since that's consistent with what I've heard too.



I now have very little respect for Shen and Zhao after this series of sh!tshows. I wasn't their biggest fan when they were competing but had a lot of respect for them then and they were the first figure skaters I knew. Now... :rolleyes:

Shen and Zhao have ruined the reputation and the future of Chinese pairs skating. I have heard some rumours that Shen and Zhao have already dismissed the whole junior team of pairs skating. It would be so ironic if there were no junior pairs team in the homeland's JWC next year.
 

Japanfan

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Shen and Zhao have ruined the reputation and the future of Chinese pairs skating. I have heard some rumours that Shen and Zhao have already dismissed the whole junior team of pairs skating.

But why would they do that? Pairs has long been China's strongest discipline, leading to Olympic Gold in 2010.
 

raruki

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But why would they do that? Pairs has long been China's strongest discipline, leading to Olympic Gold in 2010.

Basically S/Z want to form a strong third team by letting Xie Zhong pair up with all the junior girls. What I hear is that Wang Yuchen and Huang Yihan, Wang Huidi and Jia Ziqi, the two junior pairs who competed in JGP series last season, one of them got split and the other have to go back to their provincial team. There is only one junior pair in the national training camp right now.

What S/Z is doing right now is just to achieve a good result in Beijing Olympic in a short amount of time, and they don't care any long-term plan for the athletes and the even sport itself.
 

raruki

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But why would they do that? Pairs has long been China's strongest discipline, leading to Olympic Gold in 2010.

If Sui/Han and Peng/Jin retire, The era of Chinese pair skating will be officially done. We are short of skaters and talents in this discipline right now. But We all know who achieve this.
 

aftershocks

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Yeah @Jeschke, I too thought Tang/Yang looked promising. He did stand out more than his partner. They surely need more experience and seasoning. They seemed to press a bit in high pressure competitive moments. And right, the question is, are Tang/Yang still together? ETA: Okay, I just now noticed that @raruki says Tang/Yang are safe, for the moment at least.

IMO, it's not a useful approach for Shen/Zhao and the Chinese Fed to expect immediate results and miracles due to taking for granted their past great successes. The moves @raruki describes suggest desperation and panic, rather than strategic, long-term goal-setting. Possibly, had they supported Yu/Jin, they would now have two very good top teams (with Sui/Han) and Peng might have been able to pair with a different partner, since she was not suited to Zhang Hao. Of course, if it's true that Jin wanted to switch, that's a different story. But I'm not convinced Jin supposedly desiring to switch because of Yu's height is necessarily truthful, as opposed to simply being an expedient excuse.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R25JF97uk1I The former "future of Chinese pairs skating"

From what I've read previously, S/Z preferred Sui/Han at all costs, and they also catered to the needs and desires of Zhang Hao, neither of which obsessions has been particularly fruitful for sustaining the strength of their pairs program overall. Is it that the junior talent isn't there, or is it that S/Z's and Chinese Fed's impatient expectations of their skaters achieving immediate stellar results isn't a great match for maintaining and/or rebuilding a successful pairs training program? To be honest, I previously preferred Yu/Jin's style of skating over Sui/Han's. Granted that S/H improved aesthetically in recent years. Peng/Jin have good chemistry and have shown promise, but they haven't been consistent, nor have they yet raised their level in important moments. They backed into some of their wins in recent seasons.
 
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Japanfan

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R25JF97uk1I The former "future of Chinese pairs skating"

Just beautiful!

IMO, it's not a useful approach for Shen/Zhao and the Chinese Fed to expect immediate results and miracles due to taking for granted their past great successes. The moves @raruki describes suggest desperation and panic, rather than strategic, long-term goal-setting. Possibly, had they supported Yu/Jin, they would now have two very good top teams (with Sui/Han) and Peng might have been able to pair with a different partner, since she was not suited to Zhang Hao. Of course, if it's true that Jin wanted to switch, that's a different story. But I'm not convinced Jin supposedly desiring to switch because of Yu's height is necessarily truthful, as opposed to simply being an expedient excuse.

From what I've read previously, S/Z preferred Sui/Han at all costs, and they also catered to the needs and desires of Zhang Hao, neither of which obsessions has been particularly fruitful for sustaining the strength of their pairs program overall. Is it that the junior talent isn't there, or is it that S/Z's and Chinese Fed's impatient expectations of their skaters achieving immediate stellar results isn't a great match for maintaining and/or rebuilding a successful pairs training program?

I heard the same about S/Z and Zhang.

I'm saddened by the notion that the era of greatness in Chinese pairs skating may decline. And as I've said before, it doesn't make sense to me given that China has all that it needs to support young pair skater.

When Bin Yao pursued his dream of building a great pairs school in China, I don't think he envisioned it sadly ending at some point.

The whole situation just doesn't quite make sense to me.
 

aftershocks

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Possibly with Bin Yao's retirement, the emotional heart and drive to continue accomplishing what had been seemingly impossible and out of reach during the 1980s, suddenly was lost. Who knows. :unsure:
 

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