The Chinese Nationals 2005


by Coralline

Photos ©


This year’s Chinese Nationals, which was also a part of the 10th National Games of China, took place in the rink of Nanjing Olympic Centre from Sept 22nd to 25th. This rink had just been completed in August, and was the first standard rink in southern China. (Because of the weather, ice skating in southern China is not as popular as it is in the North.)

It’s the first time for most audience members here to watch a live figure skating competition. There are more than 12 000 seats and the arena is very nice.

There were four events: Ladies, Men, Pairs and Ice dancing, including 140 skaters from the whole country aged from 12-30. The old 6.0 scoring system was applied. Most top skaters in China participated in this competition: Dan Fang, Yan Liu, Binshu Xu in Ladies; Chenjiang Li, Min Zhang, Lun Song in Men; Fang Yang/Chongbo Gao in Ice dancing; and Qing Pang/Jian Tong, Dan Zhang/Hao Zhang, Yang Ding/Chongfei Ren in Pairs.


There were 8 pairs in all. Although the world famous pair Xue Shen/Hongbo Zhao didn’t attend the competition because of Zhao’s injury, the Pairs competition was still the main focus of the Media and audience, since it was the first time for the other two pairs in the national team, Pang/Tong and Zhang/Zhang, to perform their new programs of the Olympic season.

Pairs before SP

In the Short Program, Pang/Tong skated to “Variations on a Theme of Paganini (by Rachmaninoff)” and took the lead. This past summer they went to America and worked with Sarah Kawahara for a while, and this beautiful program showed that their performance had been improved with Sarah’s help. Zhang/Zhang skated to “Kashmir” by Led Zeppelin, but Dan Zhang (the girl) stepped out of the side-by-side jump, finishing second. Another pair, Ding/Ren, who won the Junior Grand Prix Final in Hague in 2003, finished third.

In the Long Program, Ding/Ren were the first of the top three to compete. Their music was from “Lord of the Rings” and this program was choreographed by Lu Chen and her husband Denis. I liked this program but unfortunately they made several mistakes. Zhang/Zhang were next. Their music was a mix of “La Califfa” and the famous Chinese song “Descendants of the Dragon”. They opened with the huge and perfect throw quad Salchow that amazed everyone in the stadium. Other jumps and elements were also flawless, but their sbs spins still need to be improved. After that performance they got four 5.9s and one 5.8 in Technical merits (which they deserved), and three 5.9s and two 5.8s in presentation (which was a little high in my opinion). Pang/Tong were the last pair to skate that night. Their music was “Phantom of the Opera”. Their costumes were yellow and black. I’d like to say that although Tong doubled two jumps, their performance was the best of the evening. Their choreography was fantastic! However because of the technical gap, they finished second.

Before SP

Our banner for Pang & Tong

The other 5 young pairs were not so appealing. None of them had a clean and impressive program.


Highlights of the other diciplines

The competitions of the ladies and men were divided into three parts: LP exhibition (sort of like the QR), SP and LP. Each program of the LP exhibition lasted about 4’30 and required 2-4 jumps. Most skaters chose to do 3 jumps like in the SP. I did not watch the men’s LP exhibition.

In the ladies’ LP exhibition, two girls impressed me most: Yan Liu, 21 years old, dressed in a red mandarin gown, skated to the soundtrack from “In the Mood of Love”. Although she fell on one jump, her graceful style and expression of the music put her in the first place.

Before SP

The other girl was Bishu Xu, only 15 years old. She placed 7th in this year’s Junior World Champion. Her program was “Little Wonder”, choreographed by Lu Chen. She landed all three jumps clean and beautifully, and did some interesting footwork, finishing third. The former National champion, Dan Fan, only finished fourth because of some jump problems.

After LP

In the following days, Yan Liu held her position with her clean and steady performance of “Valley of the Red River” (SP) and “My Parents” (LP), winning the gold medal. Dan Fan caught up by better programs and more confidence, eventually finishing second. Bishu Xu, had excellent presentation in the SP, but fell on two jumps in her LP “Mulan”, and got the bronze medal.

Men before SP

In the men’s competition, Chengjiang Li had a clean-cut victory. His SP was to “Liebestraum”. However, in my opinion he still lacked a little grace compared to Ilia Kulik, and the color of his costume (an azure one) was too bright. Anyway, he won without any difficulty. Lun Song was second with Song Gao third.

A 16-year-old young man named Jinlin Guan drew my attention. He had finished 5th in this year’s Junior Worlds. His style was different from the other Chinese men, somehow resembling Jeffrey Buttle and Johnny Weir. He still has a lot to improved, but personally he became my “hope for the further”. ;P

Ice-dancing was not China’s strong point, but all the dancers gave their best performances. Xiaoyang Yu/Chen Wang’s free dance was interesting, set to the music from the Chinese Movie “House of Flying Dragons”. Wang was dressed like an ancient warrior. In the end they got the silver medal with Fang Yang/Chongbo Gao winning the gold and Xintong Huang/Xun Zheng finishing third.



After winning the bronze medal in Pairs, Yang Ding sat with us to watch the rest of the competitions. She is a petite young lady, kind and outgoing. We talked happily and had snacks together. ? She said she seldom puts on weight no matter how much she eats, and same with Qing Pang, the lady in Pang/Tong pair. “Oh we envy you!” us girls exclaimed, and she laughed. Unfortunately, because of her partner Ren’s decision to retire, she also has to give up skating. Thus this was the last National they attended and they have withdrawn from the Grand Prix Series this season.

“It’s difficult to find a suitable partner for me now in China.” Yang Ding said. However, she hoped she can become a judge after retiring.

We also encountered the silver-medal ice-dancing girl Xiaoyang Yu, and the ladies’ champion Yan Liu off-ice. Both were beautiful and sweet young ladies. Then we found Bin Yao, the famous coach of Chinese national team. All of them are very kind and posed for photos with us.

In this Chinese Nationals, we saw the amazing throw quad, watched many beautiful programs, and met lots of hard-working skaters. It was a memorable competition and I also hope it will help to make figure skating more popular in southern China.

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