POSTED: July 15th 2015
NewsUpdate

Olympics: Figure skating pair Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo boost the bid and launch a new era for their sport in China

Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo made history winning China’s first figure skating Olympic gold in Vancouver © Beijing 2022
Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo made history winning China’s first figure skating Olympic gold in Vancouver © Beijing 2022

The two Beijing 2022 Bid Ambassadors Figure Skating Olympic champions married during the Artistry on Ice © Beijing 2022
The two Beijing 2022 Bid Ambassadors Figure Skating Olympic champions married during the Artistry on Ice © Beijing 2022

Zhao Hongbo and Shen Xue were hosts of this year's Artistry on Ice © Beijing 2022
Zhao Hongbo and Shen Xue were hosts of this year's Artistry on Ice © Beijing 2022

MARISSA FLANDERS (USA) / Sports Features Communications

(SFC) Beijing 2022 has enlisted China's top Winter Olympic athletes to aid in the designing of an Olympic and Paralympic Winter bid, which will prioritize the athlete experience. These efforts will assist in delivering an athlete-centered Games. 

A vast pool of both youth and experienced Winter Olympic athletes have been supporting the bid as athlete consultants. Two of Beijing's 2022 Bid Ambassadors, Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo have thrown their full efforts and support behind China's bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympic Games. 

The married couple and official hosts of the Artistry on Ice event addressed the event's crowd last week saying, "The Beijing 2022 Bid does not come out of some competitive desire for our country to win more gold medals, but rather to share our love of sport so that you too will be inspired to one day pick up your own pair of figure skates and come join us out on the ice."

The duo has achieved the legendary status for their efforts in China's Winter Olympics pursuits and their many firsts for the country. They became the first Chinese pair team to win a medal at the World Figure Skating Championships and an International Skating Union (ISU) event. Then in 2002, they were the first Chinese pair to win a World Championship. They didn't stop there, and the duo continued to work for new firsts. At the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games, they became the first Chinese pair to win a medal at an Olympic Games. They finished their careers by winning a gold medal at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, which was also a first for a Chinese pair in any skating category.

When asked what was going through their heads, Zhao expressed, "Winning Olympic gold was our lifelong dream...we knew that a new era of figure skating for the Chinese had just begun."

On February 17, 2010, the pair announced their official retirement from competitive skating to focus on their personal lives and to promote their beloved sport throughout China. The two began to work on crafting their "new era" of figure skating immediately. They ended up combining their two goals by consecrating their personal relationship of 18 years at the inaugural Artistry on Ice festival. A literal "Wedding on Ice" was held in front of 20,000 spectators at the Capital Indoor Stadium.

They have continued to spread their work throughout the entire country. Currently, Zhao has been grooming China's next generation of figure skaters in his hometown of Harbin at Harbin's Skating Club. Zhao's students include Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, recent 2015 ISU World Championship pairs silver medalists; Peng Cheng and Zhang Hao, 2015 Four Continents pair silver medalists; and Yu Xiaoyu and Jin Yang, 2015 Winter Universiade pairs gold medalists.

However, once the pair found out about China's intention to bid for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, they have focused all their efforts on stirring enthusiasm and excitement for Beijing 2022 through various charitable and skating events.

Shen Xue stated, "Since retiring, we have spent the past five years doing everything we can to bring this 'new era' of Chinese figure skating to fruition."

Shen added, "But there truly is nothing like hosting a Winter Olympics on their front doorsteps to inspire our fans to pick up figure skating. We truly believe that Beijing 2022 will be instrumental in ushering in the new era of figure skating culture in China."

As lifelong athletes and working as coaches, Shen and Zhao have witnessed athlete experience from multiple perspectives. They provide Beijing 2022 with a unique gift in their pursuit to design a fully athlete-centered Winter Olympic Games from the "end-to-end" athlete journey (pre-Games, Games-times, and post-Games).

Shen Xue commented, "In my years as an athlete, I have learned that a gold-medal effort involves the commitment of many, many people behind the scenes, including multiple generations of Chinese athletes. I am happy to do what I can to help make Beijing's bid as perfect as it can be."

In addition, Shen Xue went the extra step and attended the Russian International Olympic University (RIOU) training course. Shen joined a twenty-four delegation of sports officials from all over China. Shen has been working as Deputy Director of the Figure Skating Department at the Winter Games Center and at RIOU she studied everything from on-site training to post-Games use of venues directly from organizers that help Sochi host the 2014 Olympic Games.

During a Beijing 2022 charity event last April, Zhao called out to the crowds saying, "Come on, get up, get out, and get active! We athletes are here to take our love of ice and snow, and share it with all of you."

** MARISSA FLANDERS is a graduate of Saint Leo University with a Bachelor's Degree in Sport Business. She has over four years of writing experience and has a real passion for ice hockey following the Pittsburgh Penguins on her blog www.thepenshockeyshow.com.


Keywords · Beijing 2022 · Olympic · Olympic bidding · Shen Xue · Zhao Hongbo


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