Figure skating: Overcoming slippery start

Yu Shuran in action on the ice at last year's Junior Grand Prix in Logrono, Spain. She will be competing for Singapore at February's Four Continents Figure Skating Championship, her first major senior international competition.
Yu Shuran in action on the ice at last year's Junior Grand Prix in Logrono, Spain. She will be competing for Singapore at February's Four Continents Figure Skating Championship, her first major senior international competition.PHOTO: ISU JUNIOR GRAND PRIX OF FIGURE SKATING LOGRONO 2015

S'pore figure skater qualifies for first major senior championship despite a difficult build-up

Singapore will have a representative at February's Four Continents Figure Skating Championship (4CC) for the first time since 2012.

Yu Shuran will fly the flag at the 4CC, the cousin of the more prominent European Figure Skating Championships, which serves as a platform for non-European skaters to compete on a similar level.

It will be the 15-year-old's first major senior international figure-skating competition. But the Beijing-based schoolgirl very nearly did not make it.

Shuran had always trained at the same ice-skating rink in Beijing, Capital Stadium Rink, since she started competitive figure skating at eight years old.

But for the first six months of the year, she had to flit between up to three different ice rinks each week because Capital Stadium refused to allow her coach to conduct training sessions as it had rebranded itself as a public ice rink.

It affected her preparations for last week's Asian Open Trophy in Manila - her first senior international skating competition.

A DEMANDING SCHEDULE

The latest I would skate would be from 10.30pm till midnight. I would sleep very late, and for only five or six hours.

YU SHURAN, on having the opportunity to train only when the public ice rink in Beijing closed late at night.

"Before the rink closed, I had a schedule that was set in stone," said Shuran, who was born and raised in Beijing by a Chinese mother and a Singaporean father.

Her daily schedule when she was training at the old rink read: school ends at 3.30pm, go through off-ice training at the rink from 4.30-6pm, skate from 6-7.30pm.

"But when the rink closed, the hours were really late and irregular," she said.

"The latest I would skate would be from 10.30pm till midnight. I would sleep very late, and for only five or six hours."

Fatigued and sleep-deprived, she fell sick constantly and had to withdraw from this year's national championships. All this added to the stress of having to also cope with her schoolwork.

Fortunately, just two months before the Asian Open, Shuran, her coach and her peers settled at a new rink, where they could train on ice more often and at more flexible hours.

She went on to place fifth out of 10 skaters at the Asian Open in Manila, her score of 111.75 earning her a spot at next year's 4CC in Gangneung, South Korea.

Past medallists of the 4CC include Mirai Nagasu, who finished fourth at the 2010 Winter Olympics and fellow American Polina Edmunds, who was ninth at the 2014 Sochi Games.

Singapore was last represented at the 4CC four years ago, when Brittany Lau placed 28th out of 30 competitors.

Shuran is hoping to better that result by finishing within the top 24 and advancing to the free skate.

She said: "I don't want to get ahead of myself - I'll go into it fully prepared and do my absolute best."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 12, 2016, with the headline 'Overcoming slippery start'. Print Edition | Subscribe