By PHYLLIS HO
RYAN Yee Zhi Jwen may seem like your typical 17-year-old teenager, but there’s nothing ordinary about this top Malaysian ice skater.
The youngest ice skater to have his name recorded in the Malaysia Book of Records, Yee is well on his way toward becoming one of the sport’s greats.
Two years ago, Yee was also the first Malaysian to compete in the International Skating Union (ISU) Junior Grand Prix in Corcheval, France.
“Before that, we did join competitions but they were under a different association called the ISI,” he shared. The Ice Skating Institute (ISI) is only a governing body for recreational figure skating, while the ISU regulates Olympic-style figure skating competitions.
“So to have Malaysia competing for the first time in the ISU, that was quite a big thing. It was a very nice experience for me,” he added.
Yee, who started skating 10 years ago, comes from a family of skaters – his mother and two brothers are also skaters.
“When I first started, I was about six. I didn’t know what I was doing,” shared Yee. “But as the years gone by, I started to like skating.
His training schedules at the Sunway Pyramid ice rink in Selangor are quite hectic. Yee trains four days a week, and each session lasts about two hours. The trainings are all conducted at night, except for weekends and holidays where the skaters will come early in the morning before the rink is open to the public.
“After each (morning) session, I usually go to the gym and after that I’ll go home and sleep,” he laughed. “Because we start very early in the morning and sometimes my night sessions will go on until midnight.”
As a skater, the most challenging part is making sacrifices. iIt’s the same with every skater. We sacrifice a lot, including our time to hang out with friends; time to sleep and eat,” he shared. “It’s a lot of sacrifice and hard work.”
Besides skating, Yee likes to read and play the guitar. “I do this during the weekends, because my weekdays are mostly packed.”
He often travels to different countries around the world for competitions and trainings, and is always accompanied by his mom.
“It’s definitely fun to go overseas but it’s not so fun when you come back,” he said. “I have to catch up with my studies and sometimes, the skating season starts during my exam season so it’s quite tough for me.”
Yee thinks that a lot of people are actually very attracted to skating, because the sport is unique here in Malaysia.
“People will come, but we lack the professional facilities and trainers that are needed to bring up better skaters. That’s why we are struggling a lot right now,” he remarked.
For now, Yee will continue skating but he plans to start coaching next year.
“I actually wanted to start this year but there’s a policy where they don’t allow people under 18 to coach,” said Yee. “While coaching, I’ll still participate in competitions.”
A memorable moment for Yee was when he skated in a stadium packed full with spectators during the Asian Winter Games last year, which was held in Kazakhstan.
“It’s the second biggest Winter Games in the world, so it’s quite cool to join such a professional competition,” said Yee, who will be leaving soon for Istanbul, Turkey to compete at the next ISU Junior Grand Prix.
Ryan Yee performing some of his stunts here! –> Ryan Yee – Figure Skating