SINGAPORE - Axel jumps, spirals and spins executed by some of the region's top athletes will take centrestage at The Rink in JCube this weekend, when Singapore hosts the inaugural SEA Open Figure Skating Trophy.
A total of 110 athletes - including 16 from Singapore - from 12 countries including Indonesia, Thailand, Australia and Korea are expected to feature across 10 categories at the event.
Held from Sept 2 to 4, it will be Singapore's first time hosting an international figure skating competition, said the Singapore Ice Skating Association (Sisa) in an announcement on Monday (Aug 29).
The event is sanctioned by the International Skating Union (ISU) and Asian Skating Union, and supported by the ISU Development Commission.
The Republic had previously hosted the ISU World Development Trophy, Tri-Series Cup and SEA Open Short Track Trophy.
Sisa president Alison Chan said: "We believe this important development initiative will become a key part of the annual competition calendar in the region."
She also noted that the competition will serve as a boost for Singaporean athletes who are preparing for future SEA Games that feature the sport.
Winter sports debuted at the biennial Games in 2017, with Singapore's figure skaters Yu Shuran and Chloe Ing claiming a gold and a silver, while their short track speed skaters won four silvers and a bronze.
Two years later in the Philippines, Ing won gold in the figure skating ladies' singles but the sport was not included in Hanoi in 2022 and is also not on the roster for next year's edition in Cambodia.
Chan added: "With the announcement that SEA Games 2025 (Thailand), 2027 (Malaysia) and 2029 (Singapore) will be hosted in countries that have ice skating infrastructure and athletes, we are hopeful that our sport will once again be on the SEA Games roster.
"We are therefore ramping up development efforts to prepare our athletes in the lead up to the Games."
Among the Singaporean contingent will be Pagiel Sng, 18, who finished fifth in his SEA Games debut in 2019 and will be skating in an international competition on home soil for the first time.
The Republic Polytechnic Year 1 student, who will compete in the senior men's category, said: "I'm looking forward to putting out two good programmes and reconnecting with some of my international skating friends who will be flying into Singapore to compete.
"During the pandemic given the Covid-19 restrictions, it was a challenge to maintain my passion. I overcame this by making a conscious effort to focus on my skating aspirations. I was also given a new free skate programme choreographed and delivered virtually by a professional choreographer in Canada and my coach in the United States (Robi Chalmers) so as to keep me on track in achieving my goals."
SISA technical director Zhang Wei is looking forward to an action-packed weekend. He said: "Our Singapore athletes have been working hard to prepare for the competition.
"While some of our young athletes will be competing at an ISU-sanctioned competition for the first time, I believe this will be an important step forward in their development and they will benefit greatly from this experience."