Hong Kong’s Christy Leung dreams of Beijing 2022 with the help of guru to the champions

The figure skater is seeking the aid of Canadian choreographer Shae-Lynn Bourne in her attempts to qualify for the Winter Games

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 August, 2017, 8:29pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 06 August, 2017, 12:11am

Hong Kong’s top figure skater, Christy Leung Yi, is seeking help from Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu’s choreographer as the 14- year-old aims to fulfil her dream of making it to the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing.

Accompanied by her mother, Katie Leung, the young skater went to the US last month to meet Canadian Shae-Lynn Bourne, a former ice dancing world champion and choreographer for the Japanese Olympic champ, who was the first Asian to win the men’s figure skating title at the 2014 Sochi Games.

Leung and the 22-year-old Hanyu spent a costly week developing a new short programme routine using the song California Dreaming, Mrs Leung said.

“We brought back a new routine which I performed for the first time in Hong Kong and I could feel the judges were very impressed, but of course it’s not 100 per cent ready,” said Leung, who came sixth in the junior women at the Asian Open Figure Skating Trophy at Mega Ice in Kowloon Bay which ended on Saturday.

“My performance was not too bad especially in the opening part of free skating, but then I struggled as I was too eager and overreached. This was the first time I performed in a major event in front of my home crowd.”

The event was won by Rika Kihira, a top Japanese junior who performed a triple axel during her free skating, one of the most difficult movements.

Leung is not eligible for next year’s Pyeongchang Winter Games because participants need to be at least 15 by August and she was born in December. Leung won bronze at the 2016 National Winter Games and a ninth place in this year’s world junior championships in Taiwan in March.

Her medal helped make the sport a tier A programme at the Sports Institute in April while her world juniors result has given Hong Kong the chance to take part in all seven legs of the annual World Junior Grand Prix, in which Leung would compete in two legs in Australia and Italy this month.

Leung has based herself in Beijing accompanied by her mother for training since 2012 given the lack of facilities and top-class coaches in Hong Kong.

“Making the Olympic dream is costly,” said Mrs Leung. “Christy started figure skating as a hobby but then her talent was soon discovered. We are now investing over a million Hong Kong dollars a year for her training and competitions. There are some subsidies from the Sports Institute especially after figure skating has become a tier A programme, but we still consider the outlay worthwhile if we can help Christy realise her potential and take part in the Olympic Games.”

Meanwhile, Hong Kong will be sending Harrison Wong Jo-yen in the men’s singles to next month’s Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany to compete for the six remaining figure skating spots for the 2018 Winter Olympics. Wong finished fifth and the highest among three Hong Kong athletes at the Asian Open Trophy.

Hong Kong has been represented only by short track skaters in the Winter Olympics since the 2002 Games and never figure skating.