Zhu Yi: from California to China

The Los Angeles-born figure skater, born Beverly Zhu, will competing for the host nation in the women single event at Beijing 2022 having made the same switch as Ailing Gu.

By Danny Lewis
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

It's been a long journey for Zhu Yi to the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022.

The 19-year-old will be the sole representative for the hosts, the People's Republic of China, in the women single figure skating competition.

China have not won a medal in the event since Nagano 1998 when Chen Lu claimed her second bronze in succession.

While Zhu is unlikely to be in medal contention, she admits "the pressure is huge" but insists she will "use the nervousness to perform better" during the Games.

Zhu Yi: Road to Beijing

Born Beverly Zhu in Los Angeles in 2002 to Chinese parents, Zhu started skating at seven years old and won the novice division at the 2018 United States Figure Skating Championships in San Jose.

In September that year, Zhu made the decision to represent China as part of the nation's initiative to attract top athletes ahead of their home Olympics.

Zhu gave up her American citizenship so that she could compete for China, and changed her name to Zhu Yi.

Another California-born athlete, freestyle ski star Ailing Gu, announced she was making the same switch in June 2019.

In her first season skating for China, Zhu finished fourth at the 2019 Chinese Figure Skating Championships in Harbin, then won a bronze medal at the Sofia Trophy.

On her ISU Grand Prix debut at the 2019 Cup of China, the youngster took 11th place.

Chen Hongyi finished in front of her on both occasions, and clinched a quota spot for China with her 21st place at last year's World Championships in Stockholm.

It would become a straight fight between the two for that sole berth in Beijing, and Zhu's seventh place at the Asian Cup, the Olympic test event, and an eighth place in the Gran Premio d'Italia helped her win selection over her fellow teenager in mid-January.

Zhu Yi during her short program at the 2021 Asia Cup
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Now Zhu is hoping to make an impact on her Olympic debut.

"I feel so much better," Zhu said after a training session in the Capital Indoor Stadium on Saturday. "On the first two days, I felt lonely but excited. But everything turned alright today.

"I don't know why. Maybe because I got used to the rink and I am well tuned now. There are other skaters today and training with them really gets my adrenaline going."

While spectators are limited at the Games, Zhu will have some home support, adding, "Everyone is supporting me here, my coaches, teammates and friends. It's touching and very important to me."

When can I watch Zhu Yi competing at Beijing 2022?

Zhu Yi competes in the women single short program on Sunday 6 February with the action starting at 09:30 Beijing time which is 17:30 Pacific Standard Time on Monday for those watching in Los Angeles.

If she makes the top 24, she will take part in the free skate on Monday 7 February at 11:35 Beijing time (19:35 PST Sunday).

BRING FIGURE SKATING TO YOUR INBOX.

Figure skating news. Beijing 2022 schedule. Medal table. Curated highlights.