by Klaus-Reinhold Kany
The ladies competition at the 2020 Cup of China did not have a very good level, because only the winner performed really well.
18-year-old Hongyi Chen took the lead in the short program and won the overall gold medal with 186.53 overall points, more than 38 points ahead of the rest of the field. She had been 19th at Worlds 2019 and 11th at Four Continents 2020. She is coached by Yang Zhao in Beijing, and Lori Nichol did her choreographies. She opened her elegant short program with a combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop, but the toe loop was a bit under-rotated. Her triple flip was excellent, two of the three spins as well, the other three elements good. She skated to the love theme of the soundtrack of “Cinema Paradiso“ by Ennio Morricone and her components were around 7.4.
She commented, “I am quite satisfied with my performance and I was able to do what I do in my regular practice. I was a little nervous after not competing in a while and I think I need to get used to the lights and the atmosphere again. It was good that we had two test skates before in my team. I worked with Lori (Nichol, choreographer) for the first time this year. Lori knows a lot about ladies single and found a lot of the styles and details that fit my personality.“
In her free program to “I Have the Strength to Fly“ by Xiaoduo Cheng she began with a very good combination of triple Lutz, Euler and triple Salchow, followed by a good combination of triple toe loop and double toe loop which was planned triple-triple. The loop and the second Lutz were also impressive triples. During the good combination of triple flip and double toe loop she came very close to the barrier and two-footed her landing a bit. She popped her first Axel, but added a good double Axel right afterwards. Her three spins had a level 4 and the two step sequences were good as well. Her components had an average of 7.5.
She said: “The music of my free program is Chinese style. When we were looking for music with Lori, we tried to find music that fits me, especially with the 2022 Beijing Olympics Games coming. I am not completely satisfied. I regret that I did not go for the triple-triple and I missed one Axel. I felt a little tired. I want to improve my technical difficulty and my performance skills. Before coming here, I adjusted the programs, the elements, the steps to find what suits me best. Now I feel like I’m doing better than before, but there is still room to improve and details to polish.”
15-year-old Angel Li from Shanghai won the silver medal with 148.33 points. She had planned to compete at the Junior Grand Prix. But when the whole series was cancelled, she and her coaches decided to move to seniors. The Cup of China was her very first international competition. Skating to “Secrets“ by Jennifer Thomas, she started her short program with a clean combination of triple Lutz and double toe loop. After falling on an under-rotated triple flip, she continued with five good other elements. Her components were around 6.1. She said: “This is my first time competing at Cup of China, I was very nervous but tried to stay focused. As soon as my music started, I was able to focus and take one element at a time. Overall I am happy with my performance, but I made a mistake in my second jump and I need to work harder.“
In her free routine, she skated to the “Song for the Little Sparrow“, performed by Patricia Kaas, and to “La Terre Vue du Ciel“ (The Earth Seen From the Sky) by Armand Amar. The first two combinations (triple Lutz - double toe loop plus triple toe loop - double toe loop) were good, but she fell on the second triple Lutz. The second triple toe loop and two double Axels were clean, the other elements as well. She commented: “I regret that I fell on my second triple Lutz. It was an unique opportunity for me to compete here and I tried my best. I learned a lot. When I get back home I will focus on my physical strength. In the future, I would like to focus on my skating skills and making my skating lighter and look easier.”
16-year-old Minzhi Jin from Beijing (who turns 17 on November 11) took the bronze medal, earning 135.43 points. The Cup of China also was her first international event. Interpreting the German song “Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen” (To Me You Are Beautiful) by Ella Fitzgerald, she began with a good combination of triple Salchow and double toe loop, but then she fell on the triple toe loop. The other five elements were O.K. and her components around 5.7. She explained: ”My short program is new this year, and I haven’t got chance to practice a lot yet. I made a mistake on an element that I normally execute really well. This is my first time at the Cup of China and I am happy to be able to perform at this bigger stage.”
The first two elements in her free program were two relatively clean triple toe loops, the first one in combination with a double toe loop. Then she singled a Salchow, but later two double Axels were good. Her music choice was from the “Tree of Life Suite“ by Roberto Cacciapagila. Jin had one point less in the free routine than Siyang Zhang (who is fourth overall), but remained third because she had eight more points in the short program. She commented: “I made a small mistake and popped a jump, but overall I performed up to my level, In the future, I would like to bring the full package and also improve my skating skills. I love the atmosphere at the competition. I think it’s a good start of the season.”
15-year-old Siyang Zhang from the city of Qiqihar finished on fourth position with 128.20 points. In her only international competition up to now, she had been 14th at the Junior Grand Prix in Richmond near Vancouver in 2018. In the short program to a medley from “Disney Princess“, she went down on an under-rotated triple loop as well as on an under-rotated triple toe loop. Her double Axel was also a bit under-rotated, but then she overcame her shaky start because her spins and steps were convincing. “I’m not satisfied with today’s performance“, she said. „I made mistakes on the jumps, but the spins and step sequence were okay. It’s my first time at the Cup of China. I’m quite excited today and feel like the environment today is really different than other competitions I’ve been to.“
In her free program to “River Flows in You“ by Yiruma (first and third part) and to “Every Drop of Rain“ by David Garrett, she did not fall, but her triple loop and her triple toe loop at the beginning were under-rotated again. Her second triple loop was downgraded, but two double Axel and four other double jumps were clean. Her spins were even very good and her components had an average of 5.8. She explained: “The music for the free program is sadder compared to the short program. It’s more about the emotions inside. I didn’t do well in the short program and was able to show what I’m normally able to do in my trainings. I come here to learn from others.”
21-year-old Lu Zheng from Harbin in Northeastern China (where Junior Worlds is planned in March 2021 at the moment) ended up fifth with 86.48 points. She was slow and does not have the level for a Grand Prix any more, but China seems to have no better ladies who were fit and not injured or sick. She had been last at the Cup of China in 2015 and was at two Junior Grand Prix in 2016. Her first element in the short program was a double toe loop without combination which got zero points. Then she fell on a downgraded triple Salchow and on an under-rotated double Axel. Her spins were clean. She skated to the French music of "C’etait Salement Romantique“ (It Was Badly Romantic) by Coeur de Pirate. She said: “I’m not satisfied with today’s performance and didn’t complete the jump elements. I didn’t practice that well. I wanted to skate what I am able to do in daily practice.“
In her free program to “Paquita Variations“ by John Lanchbery, she did not try any triple jumps, nor any double Axel and three other double jumps were not clean. She explained: “I think I’m more relaxed today than yesterday, but not technically, because I didn’t train that well. I will work harder in the future.”