China's Legendary Pair Skaters to Quit the Stage
    2012-06-12 08:57:31      Web Editor: Xu
China's Olympic gold medal pair skaters Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo have announced that they will go behind the scenes to help coach young skaters for China's national team.

Famous Chinese figure skater Zhao Hongbo (right) speaks to reporters at a press conference on Monday, June 11, 2012. Zhao announced he and his wife Shen Xue would retire to coach a new generation of skaters for the country after their last performances in the "Artistry on Ice" show this year. [Photo: Fei]

China's Olympic gold medal pair skaters Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo have announced that they will go behind the scenes to help coach young skaters for China's national team. Their Artistry on Ice show Tuesday evening is expected to draw their former competitors and friends to the stage for a final show in Beijing.

To many figure-skating fans around the world, Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo, the first Chinese pair-skating team to win a World Championship, are a miracle on ice.

However, Zhao Hongbo formally announced that he would quit the stage at a press conference in Beijing Monday afternoon.

"Our 20 years of figure skating experience makes us feel that this is the perfect time for us to bid farewell to our fans. The next step is for us to train the students with our experience and techniques accumulated in the competitive field. We really hope that the next gold medalists will again come from China."

Kurt Browning, a Canadian figure skater, choreographer and commentator, is a good friend to the skating couple. This four-time World Champion said he would give a performance for the couple at the Artistry on Ice show. He also said he can't wait to share his love of skating with the Chinese audience, hopefully gaining him some new fans.

"I get to come here and share my skating with a new audience. And I'm very lucky to do this. I have one program that's called "I'm Yours". It's not a comedy, but it's very light. It's very friendly, and the object of the program is to say "thank you" to the fans and I've skated for you. So at one point, on my shirt I have, hopefully with some help, written the words "I am yours" in Chinese on my back."

Besides Kurt Browning, a number of other heavyweights in the figure skating industry, including Johnny Weir, a three-time U.S. National Champion from 2004 to 2006, and Evgeni Plushenko from Russia as well as his musician partner Edvin Marton, would make an appearance Tuesday evening.

Edvin Marton said at a press conference in Beijing on Monday that his cooperation with figure skaters is a combination of music and sport.

"We made the history, together with Evgeni Plushenko in 2006 at the Olympic Games, when we performed together. Never has sport and music been so close on the ice. It's not just sport; it's art."

Tom Cruise's wife, Katie Holmes, an American movie star, has been invited as the poster child for the 2012 Artistry on Ice show. Katie is a fan of figure skating and shares Edvin Marton's view.

"It's a lot of hard work and that perfection is not easy to combine. It's years of practice, so I really admire all of it. And I admire the costumes, the music that's chosen and the level of creativity involved, mixed with the skill."

"Artistry on Ice" was first performed in September 2010 with a wedding ceremony theme by ice dancers Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo. It later developed into an annual event.

The 2012 "Artistry on Ice" show, which first debuted in Taipei on June 9th, was hailed by local audiences as a success. After a one-day show Tuesday night in Beijing, more than 10 world champions will continue to give performances in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen and China's eastern economic hub of Shanghai.

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