Hong Kong ice-skating athletes are yearning for a training venue of their own
Reporters: Sarah Poon, Valerie Wan, Erica Li, Edith Chung
Editors: Angela Ng, Catherine Chiang
There are currently five ice-skating rinks in Hong Kong, including Cityplaza Ice Palace, Glacier at Festival Walk, Mega Ice at Megabox, the Rink at Elements and Sky Rink at Dragon Centre. All of them are located in indoor shopping malls and open for commercial use all year round. Skaters of all ages can drop by any rink, rent a pair of skates and start skating.
In the past three years, Hong Kong athletes won five medals in the Asian Figure Skating Trophy, one of the toughest skating competitions in Asia. They had also qualified for the short track speed skating events for four consecutive Winter Olympic Games since 2002.
However, athletes still do not have their own training venue despite having won numerous awards in international competitions. All the five skating rinks in Hong Kong fail to meet the Olympic standard, which measures 60 metres x 30 metres.
Some ice-skating athletes raise concerns over the inadequacy of training facilities in Hong Kong. Figure skaters Chow Hiu-lok and Harry Lee Hau-yin say their performance is greatly affected by the lack of a training venue. They find it difficult to adapt when taking part in international events, as they are not trained in a standard rink.
The precision of rink dimensions is particularly important for short track speed skaters and it is closely related to their performance in competitions. “Basically I had to skate slower in Hong Kong and just expect myself to skate faster in competition. It is not an ideal training method,” says Sidney Chu, who used to train in the Hong Kong National Team.
Sun Dandan, head coach of the Hong Kong Skating Union, notes that the absence of a suitable rink places athletes at a disadvantage when they compete overseas. She explains that athletes have to adjust their skating speed and flow of their programme.
Speed skating athletes also have similar problems. “For short track speed skating, athletes must practice in a standard and safe venue with protection mats. Otherwise, our training could come to no avail,” says Sun.
Yip Siu-yin, chairperson of the Union, says the lack of training venues is the greatest problem hindering the development of ice sports in Hong Kong. “More than ten years ago, the lack of a proper arena was a common problem. The situation has now changed. Southeast Asian countries all have standard ice rinks, but we still don’t,” says Yip.