Ice king gets his skates on for Asia

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 July, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 July, 1994, 12:00am

DAVID LIU was only eight when his parents bought him his first pair of skates.

The future Taiwan National skating champion was so excited he couldn't wait until he found some ice to try them out on.

''My parents were living in an apartment in New York with marble floors, so when everyone was asleep I snuck out of bed, and went skating on the marble: it was like a knife through butter.'' The floor survived the ordeal and David moved on to some real ice, later competing in the 1988 and 1992 Olympic Games and six world championships.

In Hong Kong for the week to perform at the America on Ice show at the Cityplaza Ice Palace, David - who has Taiwanese and US passports - has been getting a bit of a cult status among the local skaters.

''There aren't that many Asians who make it in skating - I guess this gives them something to aim for.'' He says he gets a lot of fan letters from Taiwan and Japan .''Some of them start 'I'm 23, female . . .' but a lot are from people who really love skating.'' Another guest star is Rory Flack, winner of the US Open gold medal last December, niece of singer Roberta Flack, and herself something of a role model - particularly among black communities in the US: ''People often think skating is a white people's sport, like they think basketball is for black people.'' Rory told us she had to overcome a lot of prejudice to make it to the top, with some judges giving her the lowest marks in some early competitions after making openly racist remarks.

Completing the trio is Tisha Walker, former US National competitor, who skated the role of Tonya Harding in a new American movie about the Olympic drama.

''The Tonya Harding-Nancy Kerrigan thing has been good for skating in one way - suddenly there's a lot of interest in the sport - but I just wish it didn't happen that way,'' Tisha said.

''Yeah, and that kind of thing never made it to the headlines before, but it happens the whole time in small ways: I've had people loosening the pins on my skates just before I compete, they're so desperate to win,'' Rory chipped in.

The three artists will be on the ice at 6 pm every night until Saturday.