Easy on the ice
Article from the Sun daily (posted on 21 June 2016)
CUTTING a fine figure on the rink, Julian Yee glided across the ice before he executed a perfect jump shot.
Much like his earlier pirouette, as well as the other acrobatic stunts he pulled, his smile remained in place.
And this, according to him, is the most challenging aspect of figureskating.
"Although what we do is very tough, we still need to make it look effortless," said the 19-year-old.
Yee is a national figure skater who has made Malaysia proud time and again.
In addition to his various national and international accolades, he secured Malaysia's first ever spot at the 2016 Winter Youth Olympics; became the first Malaysian to qualify for the World Figure Skating Championships in Boston, USA; and the only Malaysian to break the 200 mark after scoring 202.94 points (a personal best).
Currently ranked number 52 in the International Skating Union's World Standings,Yee is also one step away from the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea – all he needs is a good performance at the
2017 World Figure Skating Championships as that will be the stepping stone for his entry into the Olympics.
How did you get involved in figureskating?
When I was four, my mother wanted to learn skating so she brought my brother and I along to her classes. Whilst it began as a hobby, it eventually developed into my passion.
Is figure-skating similar to ballet and gymnastics?
To an extent, yes. In figureskating, we have to incorporate a lot of different aspects, so I have to take up dancing, ballet, and more. Basically, we have to do everything that a ballerino or gymnast
does but in speed, and while trying to balance on ice. It's really not as simple as people perceive.
When you're on the rink, what usually occupies your mind?
Normally, my pre-practice habit is to set out everything that I have to do, so my focus is always on that. Similarly, during a competition, I take one step at a time. Let's say, in the programme I need to do three jumps so I'll concentrate on each jump individually.I can't think of everything at once, because it'll jumble up my mind and cause confusion.
What is a psychological barrier that figure skaters face?
You need to want it badly. If you only want to do this for fun, then go ahead and adopt it as a hobby, but if your ambition is to be a professional skater, then it's all in the mind – stay focused
and believe in yourself.
Why did you start a GoFundMe campaign to support your 2018 Winter Olympics quest?
Figure-skating is a winter sport, thus it's still new and unknown to many Malaysians. As such, I do not receive sufficient funds from the authorities nor do we have proper facilities and training here. In order to step up my game for the Olympics, I need the guidance and expertise of experienced coaches overseas, and this is beyond my parents' means. I do not want financial constraints to hinder my goal of promoting this sport and putting Malaysia on the figure-skating map, hence I decided to seek support from the public.
You said that you don't have the luxury of proper facilities and guidance. Can you elaborate on this?
In Malaysia, we only have two rinks and a half. So when I train here, I have to practise among the public. Access to limited rinks also means that ice time is scarce – it's either early in the
morning or late at night. And since we only have one Olympic-size rink, which opened last year, it's not really conducive to prep for competitions.
Moreover, I've come to the point where I've surpassed the experience and level of my coach here, so I have to train alone by trial and error.
Biggest fan of: Daisuke Takahashi.
Can't live without: Malaysian food.
Competitions per year: At least eight.
Life principle: "I don't dream, I set goals."
GoFundMe page: www.gofundme.com/x42k55c4
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