I didn’t see anyone post this, but this was the first time I’ve seen an interview from her! We get to hear a bit about her personality, as well as her thoughts about Rio. (this just makes me pray even harder that she makes it to Tokyo).
Translation: (feel free to correct any inaccuracies bc i am v v tired lol)
Announcer: The Chinese National Championships have just finished, and in the new quad and under the new code, the gymnasts are still adjusting to the changes. But we’ve also been able to meet a group of new stars, like Guangdong’s young star, Liu Tingting. Let’s get to know her better.
Interviewer: Can you describe your personality?
LTT: Lively, cheerful, and very crazy. They think I’m a little too naughty!
Voiceover: But when she stands in the arena, her demeanor completely changes. At this championship, she is the captain of the Guangdong team. The first event in the TF was her best event, balance beam. During training, she was able to do everything perfectly, but unfortunately she fell, walking away with only 12.80 and missing out on the beam final. However, she was able to quickly adjust to her failure. In the remaining events, she performed normally, and Guangdong team was able to win the competition.
LTT: When you fall, you have to think about how you’re going to deal with it. My performance on the other events could always be affected by a fall. But this time, I felt like I was able to improve and grow because I overcame that.
VO: She also fits the role of team captain perfectly, always helping out others and warmly encouraging and cheering for her teammates.
Coach Wang: During training, I rarely have to scold her. Compared to many of the others, she’s very mature.
LTT: Because I’m the captain, because I’m older, I have to look out for and support the younger gymnasts.
VO: One might feel sorry that a 17 year old girl like Tingting has so much responsibility. In the harsh world of gymnastics, someone like Tingting has needed to grow up fast. The price she’s paid also includes injuries, both physical and emotional.
Before the Rio Olympics, Tingting was selected to the Olympic team. However, during training, she injured her hand on the uneven bars, dashing her Olympic dreams.
LTT: During the first two days, the pain was so bad I couldn’t even sleep. On the weekends, I’d dream about the moment when I broke my hand, and I’d wake up in a cold sweat.
LTT (cont.): The recovery process was really hard. My hand hurt, doing things hurt. Slowly, we started training again and rebuilding my strength and ability. And even then my hand would ache. Sometimes I would think to myself that it felt like I wouldn’t be able to recover. I felt kind of depressed, that no matter how hard and long I worked, it wouldn’t get better. But after enduring and training (with Lu? a coach? not sure lol) day in day out, my attitude improved bit by bit, and I began to regain my self-belief. When I competed for the first time at Melbourne, I felt like I affirmed to myself that I still had the ability.
and blah blah montage about Melbourne and Doha
VO: At Nationals, due to a waist injury, she only won a silver medal on floor. However, no one doubts her future, because she has the ability to stand on the medal podium, and because her experiences will give her the strength to overcome even greater challenges.
song montage, and the closing remarks basically summarize the video.
Hey! I have always wondered how much money figure skaters get? I mean in competitions like the GPF or the olympics, and do they also get free skates and equipment like other sports? Thank you!
anon: hi !! i’m sorry if it sounds a bit stupid, but i was wondering how competitive skaters make money ? are they… paid for their performances during competitions ?
Skaters can earn prize money on the Grand Prix, ISU Championships, and certain other competitions like the Challenger Series.
Prize money for each Grand Prix event:
Prize money for the Grand Prix Final:
European and Four Continents Championships:
Money earned at the Olympics depends on which country the skater is from, but it’s usually only given to medalists.
In general, skaters make very little from prize money - ISU prizes are tiny compared to much more popular sports around the world. Even top skaters who often medal at major competitions aren’t making a lot from prize money alone; most of it just goes back into covering training costs. Skaters definitely do not get free equipment - they must pay for their skates (boots and blades need to be replaced often, as well), for training time at the rink, coaching, choreography, and costumes, as well as other things like physical therapy, dance lessons, etc. Costs for elite skaters can be in excess of tens of thousands of US dollars a year; it’s one of the most expensive sports in the world. Here’s a CBC article about how much training can cost for an elite pairs skater - CAD $100,000, or USD $70,000 per year. That number’s probably applicable for a top singles skater as well.
Top skaters in countries where skating is popular (like Japan) can earn money from sponsorships and commercials, but even there, very few skaters are lucky enough to get lucrative sponsorships. National federations usually help their skaters with funding to various degrees (Chinese skaters on the national team are entirely funded by the government, for example), but most skaters still have to shoulder the brunt of the cost themselves. Feds also take a percentage of their skaters’ prize money. Many skaters have to get financial support from their family, work side jobs (some of them coach younger skaters), or rely on crowdfunding (Rockerskating has a list of some skaters’ crowdfunding pages here, and there are links in this FSUniverse thread as well).
From our beloved Mike Murphy, the list of Chinese national team players who’ve registered for the CWHL draft within the past couple of days. It’s unclear if they’ll be paid as “ambassadors” or as players.
Hello! First of all I'd like to thank you sooooo much for running this blog. I just got into Figure Skating and didn't know where to look for resources so I'm forever grateful that your blog exists. You don't know how happy and relieved I was when I found your site <3 Bless your soul. Secondly, do you know whether elite skaters receive government funding or sponsors to help with their training fees? I read a couple of articles previously on how FS don't earn a lot and (1/2)
- have to take 2nd jobs to support their training fees (like Ashley Wagner working at a denim store). I read that when Javier first started training with Brian, he was on gov funding but got cut off later on. So yeah, do elite skaters get help for their training fees or what kind of arrangement usually exists? Thank you so much!
Thank you, glad you find our blog helpful! Federation/government funding varies by country. In some countries, sports organizations operate under/with the government, in others, they’re unrelated. For example, the Chinese government funds the skaters on the Chinese national team, but the government does not directly fund athletes in North America; skating federations there operate as separate entities. USFSA and Skate Canada offer their athletes a certain amount of funding based on their performances, and there are also scholarships that skaters can apply for. JSF operates similarly. I don’t know the exact details of how each federation/government supports their skaters as they all have their own policies.
Many skaters rely on family support or secondary jobs to cover their training costs. Some also raise money through crowdfunding sites. If the skater is popular/successful enough, they might attract sponsors as another source of income. The wealthiest skaters earn most of their income from sponsorships. Popular/successful skaters might also be invited to ice shows, which is another important source of income. Prize money is given at ISU competitions, but it’s a very small amount compared to skaters’ average training fees, and most skaters don’t place high enough at competitions to earn prize money anyway.
Yang De-Sheng has left the fearsome Jinan Jiufeng (popularly known as the Nine-headed Phoenix Flyers) and signed on with the National Chinese Quidditch team. Yang, who is a Chaser, is well-known for forcefully punching the Quaffle into the goal hoops to score.
Considering their lack of experience + super long journey to Rio (about 30 hours), Zhang Jin and Gong Kangyi did okay ^^
Coach Zhang and the girls were really sad when they knew that Ponor will not make it to Rio. They saw Cata crying :( and Zhang Jin wanted to go up to comfort her but didn’t dare to. So Coach Zhang encouraged them and both Zhang Jin and Kangyi approached Cata and told her “You are so pretty, we love you!”. Cata was emotional but still took a photo with them.
Basically the whole chinese gymternet + the national team coaches are shocked too…
The reporter noticed something interesting: the Chinese WAG National Team member Yao Jinnan recently changed her name. Her new name is “Yao Ziyi”.
At 19 years old, Yao Jinnan came from Fujian and entered the National Team in 2010. She made great improvements each year, earning Worlds Team Bronze and AA bronze, and Beam Silver. Even though she’s got great skills and talents, she always missed the gold in the past.
So why change her name?
“If she was in any other field, Yao Jinnan is a good name. But in competitive sports… Yao Jinnan 姚金男 can be read as 要金难(getting gold is hard/impossible), and in recent years, she’s always gotten 2nd and 3rd, only in Quanyun last year did she get a gold,” Wang Qunce, Jinan’s coach, told the reporter.
Of course, there’s little scientific basis for superstition, but the coach hoped that it would help her confidence mentally. “So, I discussed it with her parents, and we decided to change her name to Yao Ziyi."
And so, the name Yao Jinan disappeared for the WAG National Team, and replaced by Yao Ziyi. However, in everyday life, her coach and teammates still call her "Nan nan”.
February 26th, severe haze shrouded North China for the seventh day, and the entirety of Beijing City was like a giant designated smoking room.
The photo shoot was scheduled at four o'clock in the afternoon, and while walking to the gym, we were guessing when training would end for the day; six the latest–in the end, we agreed that this was the correct answer.
In reality, even at seven o'clock in the evening, the gym was still quite a bustling scene, and all we could do was sit by the wall and try to look for the silhouette that seemed to be Yao from a distance.
This Fujian girl who just had her nineteenth birthday is the protagonist of our story today.
In the new Olympic quad, with Jiang Yuyuan, Deng Linlin, Huang Qiushuang, and Sui Lu retiring, Yao Jinnan became the only athlete on the team who has been to the Olympics. She’s well-rounded and mature, which naturally makes her second-to-none for the leading position on the Chinese Women’s Gymnastics National Team.
An Imperfect Plan of Escape
About how Yao Jinnan got into the sport of gymnastics, there’s a story that’s popular on the internet–daddy Yao said, when baby Jinnan was three, four years old, she loved to climb up to high places, for doors that’re about a meter wide, she would spread her arms and legs and climb up to the top like a spider. When she succeeds, she would yell excitedly, “am I awesome or what?!"
And so, the awesome baby Yao and her twin sister Yao Jianan was sent to a sports school by their father. After two years, her older sister gave up on training and went back to academics.
Even though she stayed in the sports school and eventually entered the Fujian Provincial Team without a hitch, Yao Jinnan never quite found a love for the sport. Whenever she’s tired and unhappy, she’d always find a way to escape.
Every time she runs back home, her family and her coach must convince her with both sticks and carrots in order to bring her back to the team, and her training would usually be delayed for a long time, and for a sport like gymnastics, which required systematic training, it has undoubtedly affected her progress.
Because of her short time training professionally and her lack of understanding for proper techniques, when the girls her age were making a name for themselves at the 2009 National Games, Yao Jinnan was hardly a name on people’s minds.
It wasn’t until a competition in Shanghai, and in a moment of coincidence, that she came into the sight of National Team coaches Wang Qunce and Xu Jinglei.
"Coach Wang, look at that kid,” when Xu Jinglei saw Yao Jinnan, it was as if she found a treasure, and Wang Qunce’s gaze followed where her pointed–that was the first time he saw Yao Jinnan, and it was the chance meeting that changed Yao Jinnan’s fate.
Wang Qunce entered the National Team in 1989 to coach, and has been a gymnastics coach for a few decades. His experience tells him that the girl in front of him is a jade in the rough.
“Gymnastics needs a certain flare, a spirit. When she performs a skill, it was the way that I’ve imagined it. She hasn’t had intensive professional training and she could still bring out this kind of performance, it means she has talent.”
Wang Qunce went to the Fujian coaches to learn more about this young gymnast, but surprisingly, the first sentence out of the coach’s mouth was, “that kid? She’s been training for a few years, but she always runs away.”
Wang Qunce thought, whether or not she runs or not is unimportant (T.N.: cuz you had experience with Sui Lu running, rite? = v=;;;), the important thing is that this child has potential.
In 2010, Yao Jinnan was selected into National Training Team. However, once official training started, coach Wang was dumbfounded–the little girl’s basics were worst than he thought. She could do a few back flips, but they were “circus level”.
More headaches came soon after. Perhaps the training was too impressive and the pressure got to her, baby Jinnan was in emotional turmoil again.
One day, Wang Qunce received a phone call that informed him that Yao Jinnan was missing, and even more concerning was that the allowance given to her by the Provincial Team was missing as well. It was in the dead of winter and when she left, she was only wearing a tracksuit, and the two coaches were sent into a panic. As soon as Wang Qunce hang up, he rushed back to the training center from his home in the suburbs, looking for her at the nearby malls, train stations and even airports. Xu Jinglei took some team members and went out looking as well, but nobody can find traces of Yao Jinnan anywhere. Running out of ideas, everyone came back to the training center to wait for her in case she comes back, and by then, it was already dark, and it was getting colder and colder outside.
At about eight o'clock at night, a security guard came rushing in. “I think I found the girl,” he said, “you guys should hurry and see if it’s her.” Apparently Yao Jinnan didn’t go far, she was hiding in the Track and Field facility, at the end of the tracks where a pile of mats were kept as buffers for Liu Xiang when he finishes a sprint. When she got hungry and cold at night, and no longer as angry as she had been earlier in the day, she came out looking for food.
Former gymnast Liu Hou tried to explain from the perspective of someone who has been through it all. “I think it’s the pressure… in the gym, everyone is very serious, so there’s always a tension in the air, and some kids doesn’t know to channel it in a positive way, and instinctively they turn to avoidance.”
Many would ask, why didn’t the coaching staff gave up on Yao Jinnan, who repeatedly attempted to run away?
“I actually like athletes with this kind of personalities, it could actually give her an advantage, but it’s key how the coach directs this rebelliousness and strong will into something positive,” Wang Qunce explained.
A Game for the Brave
Time flied and her repertoire of skills grew quietly, and with a blink of an eye, it was 2011–this is the best year of her athletic career so far. She had little injuries, she was making leaps and bonds with her training, and she had impressive achievements.
Yao was “beyond happy”, and coach Wang asked her, “are you still gonna run away?”
She didn’t speak and only snickered sheepishly at the question.
Coach Wang told her, “when we go home, just follow our training regiment. I promise you that when the World Championship comes at the end of the year, you’ll be ‘awesome’.”
Sure enough, Yao jinnan, who was on the National Team for only a year, became the brightest star of the Chinese Team at the World Championships in Tokyo.
She performed on all four events and brought home All-around bronze and Beam silver.
If everything went smooth sailing, according to Wang Qunce's predictions, Yao Jinnan would have peaked at the 2012 London Olympics and 2013 World Championships, and reach the height of her career.
In reality, as an All-Around gymnast, during the London Olympics quad, Yao Jinnan has already been the pillar of Chinese Women’s Gymnastics Team.
However, nobody expected the sudden injuries that slowed down her progress.
At the nationals in May of 2012, Yao Jinnan injured the ligaments in her right knee, and right before the London Olympics, she injured a ligament at the base of her left thigh.
Before the competition, she had four painful shots of anti-inflammatory and anesthetic. After the injection, the leg becomes numb and swollen. Usually, Yao wasn’t a child that could handle hardship well, in interviews, she always said that she admires the older teammates who battles injuries and comes out on top, and that she herself might not be so brave.
However, in front of her Olympic dreams, she stepped up.
In the prelims, an injured Yao made mistakes on Beam, Floor Exercise and Vault, and finished out of contention for the all-around final. In the Team Final, the Chinese team made one mistake after another and finished fourth.
Before the vault event and during warm ups, Yao Jinnan fell unexpectedly. Afterwards, she revealed that it’s because by the time she ran to the end, she couldn’t lift her feet. Coach Wang, who was present at the time, was so scared that his shirt was soaked with cold sweat, he asked her, “are you sure you can do this? If you feel unsure, you don’t have to."
"I can do it,” she replied, and pushed through her pain.
“It’s such an important competition, and I’m not worried that her will and her character would falter. I believe in her. However, I’m worried about her injury after the competition.”
After the competition, coach Wang was in tears. He told Yao Jinnan, “thank you,” for competing for her team through injury and hardship.
Yao Jinjin’s Golden Dream
Wang Qunce gave Yao Jinnan a nickname: “Yao Jinjin”. He joked that maybe it would change Yao’s fate as her name sounding like: “it’s difficult to get gold”.
It seemed like the superstition has merit, as even though her difficulty was at the top of the world with the “Mo Salto”, she had difficulty with the routine at the World Championships, and by then, it was the fourth year of Yao being on the national team, and she has yet to become a World Champion.
Even so, coach Wang is confident about Yao Jinnan’s future. He believes that as long as they adjust her training with thoughtfulness and care, and prevent further injuries, not only would she be in contention for World titles, she would still be a hopeful for the Olympics in Rio.
In 2016, Yao Jinnan would be 21. For a Chinese gymnastics athlete, it’s about “retirement age”. However, nothing is set in stone, since Sui Lu, also on Yao’s coaching team lead by Wang and Xu, got her Olympic silver at 20.
Aside from that, the coaching them is adjusting her uneven bars routine to be the top of the class again. At the same time, coach Wang and Xu are confident in their knowledge of her personality. Coach Wang said, “she’s like a child who doesn’t take anything too seriously."
For example, in the gym, when the lead coach Huang Yushi walks through, out of respect, most team members will stop what they are doing for a greeting, even Olympic champions like Zou Kai are no exceptions. However, Yao Jinnan is always off in her own world, treating it as if it’s something happening in outer space.
Another example is when the London Olympics was over, and Yao went back to her home in Fuzhou, Yongtai. The local county CCP secretary and other government leaders carried 50 thousand dollars in cash to visit her and her family. Her parents are very nervous, and greeted the entourage at the door. The government leaders came in, and Yao Jinnan was nowhere to be found. It turns out that she was still sleeping in. Her father went to her to wake her up, saying, "get up! The County Secretary is here to see you!”
Half-asleep, she said, “oh, let him see me then. I’m too sleepy to get up,” she turned, and went back to sleep.
It’s easy to misread her behavior as being a “diva”, but only those who knew her closely understands that she really has no concepts of a lot of things, and the outward manifestation ends up one of indifference. Coach Wang feels that this “indifference” and purity in character could be fostered into powerful mental qualities on the competition floor.
After years of working together from morning to night, and with the gradual maturity that comes with age, the two coaches had a better grasp of her personality:
“You have to tell her: right now, it is the most difficult moment in the history of Chinese women’s gymnastics teams. And you are the only one who’s been to the Olympics and had a decent result. You must set a good example, and behave like a world-class athlete in training for your young teammates. And then she’ll realize "oh wait, I actually am a world-class athlete.”
“You have to tell her: You have to work hard and become the team’s rock and pillar, leading the younger girls forward. She’ll say 'No, I can’t do that, I can’t lead them, the girls don’t listen to me.’ But afterwards, she will think about it, and realize that 'oh, I guess you are right’. And slowly, she takes more initiative with responsibilities. Sometimes, she doesn’t really know what to do, and she comes to us.”
When the photo shoot was over, it was almost seven thirty. The last bus to the dorm already left, and the gym gradually quieted down. The Wall of Champions suddenly looked solemn and sacred, and from there, Yao Jinnan is only a step away.