China's teenage skater Li Zijun faces big challenge en route to Sochi 2014

2013-11-02 12:08:49 GMT2013-11-02 20:08:49(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

by Sportswriter Zhang Han

BEIJING, Nov. 2 (Xinhua) -- With just three months to go before the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, the so-reckoned most promising woman skater of China, Li Zijun, feels trapped as she stuggled at the bottem of women's singles at Cup of China figure skating Grand Prix here on Saturday.

The talented teenager, who will turn 17 in mid of next month, performed a poor 85.40-point free skate as she down-grated several of her planned jumps and committed an unexpected fall on her triple flip, a relatively easier jump comparing to other elements.

Going into Saturday's free skate with a third-to-bottem score of 53.58 in short program, Li finished the overall standings at the last position on a total score of 138.98, with a big margin of almost 40 points trailing the eventual winner Anna Pogorilaya of Russia.

"The result from Cup of China just faithfully reflected her bad condition both physically and mentally in the recent days," commented Li's coach Li Mingzhu, who's also in charge of the Chinese women's national figure skating team.

"I'm quite disappointed with the result. That's for sure," admitted the teenage sensation. "But I've given all I have. It's the first time that I've completed a whole routine of free skating since last summer."

After coming to the summit of her career so far by finishing the seventh at 2013 world championships earlier this spring, Li is regarded a promising future star of the Chinese figure skating next to Chen Lu, the former world champion back to 1990s.

The Changchun native, however, kept going low after then and hit the bottem here at her first GP this season at home.

"What Li's experiencing is the common problems of women skaters at the age of puberty," said Li Mingzhu.

"She's getting taller and bigger, but losing power and coordination. She's been feeling overwhelmed from time to time even during routine sessions of training, and has been absent from regular training series for a long time.

"The bad conditions of physical also cost her of self-confidence. That's why she made errors on unexpected parts, that should not happening," added the coach.

On Li's schedule, the teenager skater will compete in the NHK Trophy in just a week. "I'll put all my strength in preparing for the next GP, rather than regretting for the bad position here and thinking too much of the coming Winter Olympics," she said. "That's the right thing to do right now."

"We hope that Li Zijun could go back to the right track as soon as possible, but no one can tell," said her coach. "What we can do is just to get her less burdened and to encourage her more."

Li, who just slid onto the international stage in 2011-2012 season and into her first grown-up season last year, is deemed a born skater with great sense for music and rhythm while getting the shape and body to make clear jump. She's a three-time national champion in a row and her best junior result was a runner-up in Quebec GP.

The 22nd Winter Olympic Games are to start in Sochi on February 2nd, 2014, as China have secured two spots in women's figure skating with Li Zijun and another teenage skater Zhang Kexin almost guaranteed the berths.

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