Sharp blades on ice

COMPETITIVE ice skaters from across Asia were in Sunway Pyramid recently for the 12th edition of Skate Malaysia, which ran from June 28 to July 1.

Organised by Sunway Pyramid Ice, the competition was hosted alongside the second Ice Skating Institute of Asia (ISI Asia) Championship series.

This year’s competition showcased 300 skaters from Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Macao and Thailand, with the youngest competitor at only four years old.

The international skating event is the largest of its kind to date, and is endorsed by ISI Asia with hopes of growing this competitive winter sport in this region.

Gracing the launch on the first day were chief executive officer of Sunway Malls & theme parks H.C. Chan, president of ISI Asia Harry Janto Leo, and state assemblyperson of Subang Jaya Michelle Ng.

Noting that Sunway Pyramid Ice is known as the go-to place for both casual and advanced ice skaters, Chan said that the skating rink is also a central venue which provides adequate facilities for the ice-skating community.

“We aim to continue our legacy as a leading pioneer in this niche yet popular sport.”

Chan also congratulated the organising committee for “successfully kicking off another instalment of Skate Malaysia”.

Leo, who is also the head coach at Sunway Pyramid Ice, noted that Malaysians are getting more aware of ice skating, which has contributed to its rising popularity.

“Now people know what they want, you know, instead of just [as] a winter activity in a tropical country …[or] just a hobby, now they can see it as a sport,” he said.

“That’s why you can see [Skate Malaysia 2018] is one of the largest we’ve ever done [with] 300 skaters. It’s so hard to fit it within a four-day schedule but then we invited a US referee, as well as [other] international judges for us to have a fair and square competition.”

The sport also got a boost after the success of national figure skater Julian Yee.

The athlete, who qualified for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, started his ice-skating training at Sunway Pyramid Ice under Leo for almost 10 years before moving to Canada to continue his training.

Leo hopes more skaters in the country can emulate Yee’s Olympic success on the ice.

He also spoke about 19-year-old figure skater Chew Kai Xiang as an up-and-coming name to watch.

Chew, who won a bronze medal in last year’s SEA Games, was present to give a special performance on ice at Skate Malaysia 2018.

“He’s also in the International Skating Union Junior Grand Prix,” said Leo about Chew, who first began training at Sunway Pyramid Ice.

“Next August, we’re going to have one of the top US Olympian choreographers, Karen Kwan, train our coaches, and also our skaters.

“Everybody’s going to be so excited when she comes down.”

Leo added that ice skating is a rather unique sport, one that is especially beneficial to young growing children because of its positive character building attributes.

This was the reason he fell in love with the sport. “It builds up confidence. It’s not easy when you’re on the ice by yourself, and with an audience, you’ve got to be able to tell a story.

“What do you want to tell?

“If you’re sad, you got to tell the story of why you’re sad.

“If people catch the meaning or people catch your story on the ice, it’s so lovely.”