by Liz Leamy
(21 October 2021) Vincent Zhou, the 2019 World bronze medalist and three-time U.S. silver medalist, is primed to perform in top form at the 2021 Guaranteed Skate America event in Las Vegas.
Zhou, who originates from Palo Alto, California and trains full time in Colorado Springs, Colorado, is poised to reap the rewards of his dedicated work ethic.
When training, Zhou starts his daily routine with a run through of his short program to Josh Groban’s rendition of ‘Vincent' (Starry Starry Night) that features such elements as a quad Salchow, triple Axel and triple Lutz-triple toe loop, among others.
During his afternoons, Zhou usually simulates a 40-minute practice session as if it were happening at an actual competition to further get into ‘event’ mode.
Most evenings, Zhou will then do a run through of his free skate to the film score, ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ in which at least once a week, he wears his actual competition outfit to get into full event character.
“The person who wins isn’t necessarily the best athlete, but the most prepared athlete,” said Zhou, who will turn 21 on October 25th. “I’d like to be the best prepared athlete.”
He further elaborated on how confident he feels about his short and long program music this season.
“Programs are vehicles that carry skaters and it’s good to have tried and true programs,” said Zhou, who is coached by Christy Krall, Tom Zakrajsek and Mie Hamada at the Broadmoor World Arena. “I feel like these are the best programs for me this season.” Both of his programs were created by Lori Nichol, the well respected World and Olympic choreographer.
Indeed, Zhou has the potential to be a formidable force on the men’s circuit this season given that he is said to be doing consistent and clean run throughs of his programs in practices on a daily basis, and considering his superior technical level.
In his free skate for example, Zhou includes a quad Lutz, quad flip, two quad Salchows and a quad toe loop in addition to one or two triple Axels, among other difficult elements.
The primary goal for Zhou through all of this work, however, is to hit the 300 point combined IJS score for his short and long programs as often as possible on a daily basis.
“So far this year, the math does add up to 300 and beyond,” said Zhou, noting that his immediate goals are to medal at two ISU Grand Prix events, qualify for the Grand Prix final and score 300 total points or more on the international stage. “I know I’m capable.”
Zhou said his other goals this year are to do well at the U.S. Championships and qualify for the U.S. Olympics, an event at which he would like to medal.
Based on his impressive skating history, Zhou certainly seems to have the potential to achieve these goals.
Notably, when Zhou was 11 and competing as a junior, he had a clean and consistent triple Lutz and had earned the reputation as a rising star in the sport for his technical abilities.
“I was practicing [the triple Lutz] as soon as I would get on the ice,” said Zhou.
When asked by the media to explain the difference between a triple and quad Lutz, Zhou said the latter takes much more energy and effort compared to the former.
“A quad Lutz is way harder than a triple, for sure, and it’s [all about] training me to do them when I’m uncomfortable,” he said. “Doing a quad takes 100 percent effort and you can’t half [-heartedly do it.]”
This season, Zhou and his coaching team have been working on three specific areas to help further build his strength and consistency.
At every practice, his coaching team has been monitoring Zhou’s heart rate to help him optimize his endurance and overall strength.
At the same time, Zhou and his coaches have been using Dartfish software technology to him help identify specific details in regard to further elevating the overall standard of his jumps and skating elements.
Finally, Zhou and his team have been utilizing the IJS scoring system for his short and long programs almost every day, a practice he said has helped him determine the metrics and tangibles of his skating.
Ultimately, Zhou seems to have all the right things in order heading into the Olympic season.
“Training has been going very well. We’re working toward the correct objectives and necessary areas,’ said Zhou, who plans to resume studies at Brown University once the season has concluded. “I’m really looking forward to Skate America and I think it’ll be really be an exciting event.”
At Skate America, Zhou is slated to compete against Nathan Chen, the three-time U.S. titlist and three-time World champion; Shoma Uno, the 2018 Japanese Olympic silver medalist and Michal Brezina of the Czech Republic, the three-time Olympian, among other standout international contenders.