Hong Kong’s newly-crowned figure skating champions will perform in their first competition together at the International Skating Union Challenger Series (ISU CS) Asian Open Trophy 2021 in Beijing this weekend. Lincoln Yuen Lap-kan and Joanna So will perform at the Capital Indoor Stadium in an organisational test event for the 2022 Winter Olympics, which start in February. The pair impressed back home in July, winning the respective men’s and women’s senior titles at the Hong Kong Figure Skating and Short Track Speed Skating Championships, showing no signs of rink rust despite the Covid-19 pandemic halting competition for the better part of two years. Yuen’s last international outing was at the Asian Open two years ago, where he finished 14th, while So returned to action at the ISU CS Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany – an Olympic qualifying event – last month. “It really has been a while since Lincoln has travelled for competition. You could say it’s his first notable one during the Covid-19 era, whereas Joanna competed in the Olympic qualifier before flying to Beijing,” said Hong Kong Skating Union (HKSU) sports executive David Cheung. “We’re really happy they can compete at this very high-level event. Hong Kong’s winter athletes have not had much of a chance these last two years, so I hope this is only the start.” This season the 25-year-old Yuen, who is coached by Zhao Ying, performs programmes based on the soundtracks to Schindler’s List and Notre-Dame de Paris . He achieved his best short (54.05) and total (127.93) scores at the same event in Dongguan in 2019. So, 22, under the guidance of coach Yang Zhixue, performs a short programme based on Good To Mama from the musical Chicago and will free skate to Phantom of the Opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber. She is in top form having scored her personal best total (135.78) and free skate (86.99) in Germany last month, where she placed 21st. Her best outing at the Asian Open was in Bangkok in 2018, where she finished ninth. “There won’t be as high a skater turnout for the [Olympics] test event, but we haven’t set a definitive goal or target. We just hope they perform their best sequences in Beijing,” Cheung said, citing huge improvements seen in Yuen’s training. Fellow top Hong Kong skaters Harrison Wong Jon-yen and Kahlen Cheung Cheuk-ka were unable to enter the Open because of travel constraints. “Though they haven’t competed much, they have both matured a lot during these extraordinary times. The HKSU hopes everybody continues to support our sports and its development, especially when our national athletes go abroad to compete because they also have to quarantine.” In March, star women’s skater Christy Leung Yi was forced to withdraw from the ISU World Championships in Stockholm – where she was hoping to qualify for the 2022 Olympics – because of injury. The 18-year-old would have been the first Hongkonger to qualify for next year’s Games had she succeeded. “I hope Hong Kong sports continues to put resources into figure skating. Although we might not see a local skater perform at next year’s Olympics, I hope we have a chance with the next one,” Cheung said. Women’s alpine skier Arabella Ng – who was Hong Kong’s only representative at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games – could make her second consecutive Olympics appearance after achieving the basic eligibility requirements this season. Hong Kong also has its five short-track speed skaters in with a chance for an Olympics place, though they are training in Dongguan because of their home city’s lack of international standardised rinks. In September, organisers postponed the 2021 Hong Kong Open Figure Skating event set for October because of “low application rate of international members”, with many of Asia’s ice rinks closed during the pandemic.