HK figure skater Rachelle Kwong on leaving school to go pro, and skating the line between friendship and rivalry with her BFF

By Ben Young

She reveals what she’s been up to since becoming a full-time professional athlete a year ago; it hasn’t all been smooth skating

By Ben Young |

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Rachelle had to overcome a bone bruise she suffered in her ankle due to overtraining.

Now that figure skating sensation Rachelle Kwong is back and better than ever, she has her sights set on the Olympics and is taking Hong Kong figure skating to the next level.

The 16-year-old opted to leave Renaissance College Hong Kong a year ago to become a full-time professional athlete.

“It helped my skating improve a lot – being able to focus on my training, and having more time to spend on the ice.”

Renaissance College's ice princess Nicole Chan gets back on her skates post-injury

Unfortunately, having so much determination and time on her hands led to the worst injury of her career late last year.

“I suffered a bone bruise [a traumatic injury less severe than a fracture] in my ankle because of overtraining,” Rachelle said. “I was forced to sit out for six weeks, but even worse than that was I lost all the progress I had made. Mentally, I was too scared to do some of the jumps I used to be able to do.

“Overall, it took me about half a year to get back to where I used to be.”

Flexibility is an important part of any figure skater's routine.
Photo: Sports Soho

But the effort was worth it, as Rachelle won the Hong Kong Figure Skating Championships in the Senior Ladies division in April. “It was my first clean programme since my injury and I feel like I’m finally back on track,” she said. She added that she was able to perform her most difficult jump – a triple-triple jump, which requires the skater to jump and spin three times in the air, land, and do it again. As if doing it once isn’t hard enough.

Rachelle started ice-skating when she was in kindergarten, and has been training professionally since she was 11, along with her best friend, former Renaissance College classmate, and Hong Kong National Team teammate Nicole Chan.

Bluffer's guide to figure skating

“We train together every day when we aren’t injured,” explained Rachelle, who said the two frequently train in Shenzhen where it’s easier to find ice rinks.

“It’s never strange competing against each other; we always support each other during training and before competitions. We always cheer each other up if one of us doesn’t do well, and we are always there for each other.”

The dynamic duo even walked down the runway together as models during a PolyU fashion show earlier this month.

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“It was the first time we had done a fashion show – the setup was amazing and it was just really fun because I got to do it with my best friend.”

Still, the two girls’ passion lies in skating, not modelling. Rachelle, in particular, said she wants to stay involved in the Hong Kong figure skating scene after she is finished competing.

“I’ve spent so much time skating that I really want to help other young skaters in Hong Kong,” said Rachelle of her desire to become a coach in the future.

She added, “There are a lot of good young skaters now and I think [Hong Kong] has the potential to become a great skating city.”

Top Five Figure-Skating tips from Renaissance College's Nicole Chan

Bench notes:

Favourite music to listen to before competition?

I’ll listen to anything, but I’ve been really into Shawn Mendes lately. His songs make me happy and relaxed.

Favourite snack?

Chocolate – I don’t know why, it just makes me happy.

Spirit Animal?

When I’m on the ice I feel like a penguin. But we have really early training times, and a lot of the times I just want to stay in bed – at those times I feel like a koala.

Edited by Nicole Moraleda