FIGURE skaters Julian Yee and Aina Sorfina Mohd Aminudin will once again represent Malaysia in the SEA Games after emerging champions in the 13th Malaysia National Figure Skating Championship 2019.
The champions of the senior categories qualify for a spot in the 2019 SEA Games squad for the event in the Philippines this December.
The duo defended their national titles and had previously taken part in the 29th SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur in 2017. Yee had won the men’s individual figure skating gold while Aina Sorfina finished ninth in the women’s category.
Held in IOI City Mall, Putrajaya, this was the first Figure Skating National Championships organised by the Malaysia Ice Skating Federation (MISF) since its inception in December 2018. They recently concluded the Short Track National Championships last month, which saw eight skaters selected for the 2019 SEA Games Short Track team.
At the National Figure Skating Championship, skaters competed in a total of 10 categories, ranging from Rising Stars level (beginners) to Seniors, which is the level skated at the World Championships and Winter Olympics.
Yee made history by becoming the first figure skater from Malaysia to compete at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
The 22-year-old returned to Malaysia from his current base in Canada for this championship and to conduct a workshop.
Yee was not too pleased with his performance but was happy to have achieved his goal of defending the title as champion for the Senior Men’s category.
“I’m not over the moon, it was subpar by my standards, I was a bit derailed, maybe because it is towards the end of the season.”
On preparing for the SEA Games, he said, “Now is the time to try new elements so that there is time to readjust. There is always pressure and I’m always nervous but I will try to overcome it.”
Yee also fulfilled his goal to start his own figure skating academy last year while juggling between studies, coaching and training.
Aina Sorfina, 20, who triumphed in the Senior Ladies category, was glad to beat her personal best.
“I had to juggle between university and training. After university, I normally go to the rink late at night. I will need to increase my stamina too,” she said.
Chew Sze Chyi, another participant in the Senior Ladies category, competed in the 2019 Winter Universiade last month.
Another notable competitor was 20-year-old Chew Kai Xiang who came in second in the Senior Men’s category.
He was unhappy about his mistakes during the free skate programme but was satisfied with his score nonetheless and felt it was his best performance this season.
“Prior to the nationals, I trained two hours in the morning and also coached some of the younger contenders.
“After this championship, I feel I have to work on my stamina. I need to work on the programmes and aim for more difficult jumps,” he said.
Kai Xiang also needs a coach and hopes to go to the United States for training.
“I didn’t have a coach the entire season, I trained myself,” he said.
Yee and Kai Xiang won the gold and bronze medals respectively at the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games for men’s individual figure skating.
MISF protem exco Datin Laila Ismail said at 89, it was the highest number of competitors in the history of the championship.
“This group of youngesters have worked hard. There was tremendous improvement at the novice levels; this is good because for future development, we need those in the younger categories to do well.
“In Malaysia, figure skating used to be mostly recreational but now with Yee showing the way, we see that it is possible to make it to the Olympics for figure skating,” she said.
One of the judges, Pierre de’Lacroix, said he was impressed with the level of competition and remarked that the future was promising for Malaysia in figure skating.
“I was surprised with the performances, there was a lot of improvement, I believe Malaysian figure skating is on the right track.
“There are promising talents in the younger categories; they are the future for figure skating,” said de’Lacroix, adding that he hopes to see the development of pair skating in Malaysia.