3 Chinese pairs to compete in Pyeongchang amid title hopes
The Chinese Figure Skating Association (CFSA) was officially launched on Thursday with former world champion Shen Xue named the first president.
Previously the sport was governed by the Chinese Skating Association, which overlooks ice sports in general.
Shen noted that developing the talent reserves is one of the priorities for the newly established association, not only professional skaters but also coaches and referees.
China's figure skating national team was established in 1986, but over the decades they have achieved only one Olympic title and seven World Championship golds.
The peak of the figure skating team was considered at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, where pairs Shen Xue/Zhao Hongbo clinched the gold medal and Pang Qing/Tong Jian finished in second place, ending a 46-year-long Russian dominance in the event.
The pairs final at the Pyeongchang Olympics will be held on February 15, the New Year Eve on the Chinese lunar calendar.
Yao Bing, honorary consultant of the CFSA, said he expects to have something to celebrate at the beginning of the Chinese New Year. Yao is considered the "godfather" of Chinese figure skating.
China will have three pairs competing at the Pyeongchang Olympics, with the hopes of a title finish pinned on reigning world champions Sui Wenjing and Han Cong.
Sui and Han's music for the free skating is Turandot, an encore of the tune which helped Shen and Zhao win gold in 2010. Zhao is currently the general coach of Chinese figure skating team.
Famed director Zhang Yimou, who masterminded the opening ceremony of 2008 Beijing Olympics, was appointed as the honorary president of the association.
"Figure skating also has things along the lines of movie making, especially when referring to music and the performance," Zhang said. "I'm happy to make my contribution for it."
Zhang is also the director for the eight-minute show of Beijing 2022 at the closing ceremony of the Pyeongchang Olympics. He has helped improve the 2017 pairs world champions' performance, according to Shen.
For the singles, men's prodigy Jin Boyang will try to challenge the world top-level athletes, including newly recovered superstar Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan and Spanish veteran Javier Fernandez.
Under the CFSA, a club competition is set to be established later this year, as the governing body aims to create more chances for athletes to compete. Previously China's figure skating athletes only had domestic and international championships to compete in, according to Shen.