Ice-skating princess does HK proud
By Jonathan Powell
More than 200 Hong Kong ice skaters have travelled to Shenzhen to compete in a major international competition this week.
Skate Asia 2006, a recreational ice-skating championship, has been held in different Asian cities every summer since 1989.
The event, which began last Saturday, offers a platform for skating enthusiasts to raise their standards, as well as get a taste of the competitive atmosphere. It has attracted 25 teams, comprising 1,082 participants of all ages, from the mainland, Macau, Taiwan, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the United Arab Emirates and the United States. Hong Kong has sent 204 elite skaters - the largest squad at the tournament.
The competition will run until Saturday at the World Ice Arena in the special economic zone.
The Hong Kong contingent includes star performers Lam Chin-ting, Chan Hay-man and Chan Hay-ching, who were among the medals at a major international event in the United States last month.
The Hong Kong team received a boost ahead of Skate Asia 2006 when they achieved their highest-ever ranking at the 26th ISI World Recreational Team Championships held in Boston, in the US.
The squad came 15th out of 122 teams, an improvement of 35 places compared to last year. A total of 16 skaters, aged seven to 51, represented Hong Kong.
Led by coach Dior Leung, they won a total of 53 medals - 23 gold, 21 silver and nine bronze - in various categories, including figure skating, solo compulsory and production (team performance).
The ISI competition is held annually in different US cities. This year, the championships attracted 1,850 skaters from 122 teams from Taiwan, Hong Kong, the Philippines, the United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, US and Mexico.
The SAR team's trip to the US was sponsored by Swire Properties.
'The skaters showed tremendous improvement and achieved encouraging results, especially in the Dragon Dance on ice that earned the team a third place in the production category,' said Marlo Gonzalez, Swire Properties' skating services manager.
Hong Kong's Vision on Ice Programme, held at Festival Walk and Cityplaza shopping malls, trains young skaters and encourages them to take part in international competitions.