Back from Beijing: student shares her Winter Olympics story

04 Mar 2022

Yuqing (Tiffany) Liu steps onto the ice in Beijing’s Capital Indoor Stadium and begins her warm-up.

Once she’s ready, she begins her full-length routine to the music. Afterwards, she goes to the waiting area and blows kisses to the camera. Finally, she steps into the media area…

Liu, a figure skater and postgraduate student at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, didn’t compete in this year’s Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, but as a National Technical Official (NTO), she was an indispensable part of the event.

Yuqing (Tiffany) Liu

Getting technical

To serve in the Winter Olympics, Liu started receiving NTO training offered by the organising committee early in 2018. After rigorous selection, the committee notified Liu in December 2021 that she had become one of the 60 figure skating NTOs in the Winter Olympics.

“An NTO is an actor who plays the athletes. Before the real competition, NTOs go through a simulated one to check the arena and help the cameramen find the best camera positions,” Liu says.

“Figure skating is an exhausting sport. A full-length skating routine takes almost the same amount of energy as a three-kilometre sprint.” To get back to her competitive fitness level, Liu did intensive daily workouts in the lead-up to the Olympics.

Apart from being an NTO, Liu is also a member of the figure skating music team. Music is vital to figure skating, and being a “figure skating DJ” is no easy task – it involves ensuring the equipment is in tip-top shape, making sure the music is timed right, and includes many long hours.

“Figure skaters from all over the world came to the Olympic Village before the Games and went to the halls for daily training. Both the skating halls had very tight schedules. If the athletes started training at 6am, we had to be there by 4:30 am to get the sound equipment, the music and the playlists prepared; if the athletes finished their training at 11pm, we might not be able to go back before midnight,” Liu says.

In the figure skating exhibition gala – the final skating performance of the Winter Olympics – Liu was appointed as the director’s assistant. She was tasked with teaching the athletes the group dance that the director had thought up.
Both the work in the music team and the role as the director’s assistant required Liu to communicate fluently in English with the athletes.

“Serving in the Winter Olympics was a valuable opportunity for me. I got plenty of long-term project-based work experience. I had the chance to experience different cultures and to see the individual styles of each member of the team. I also had the opportunity to reflect on my job performance and try to think up ways to complete the work more efficiently,” Liu says.

Star skater

Liu was born in 1999 in Beijing and began skating at the age of six. In 2013, while in junior high school, she came second place in the novice division of the Asian Trophy Figure Skating Championships. In 2015, she was the champion in women single skating in the 2015 Asian Figure Skating Challenge.

While pursuing her skating career, Liu didn’t give up her studies. She was admitted to XJTLU after the college entrance exam and earned her BA English Studies. Last September, she began her MA Global Education.

To be able to serve in the Winter Olympics, Liu gave up the opportunity of being an exchange student at the University of Liverpool, and after graduation, she chose to continue her studies in China. “If I had gone abroad, I may not have been able to participate in such a major event. The Winter Olympics is a long-awaited event for everyone involved in winter sports. It has affected many of my personal choices in recent years.”

As an undergraduate, Liu was a “student lecturer”. She offered the optional course “Figure Skating Appreciation” in six semesters to share her fascination and love of the sport. In addition to this, Liu founded the student club “XJTLU Skating Association” and also launched the entrepreneurial project “Skating Pals” to help get training for adults who want to learn figure skating.

“I have a real passion for figure skating, and it’s always the genuine love that moves people. I hope anyone who likes figure skating can enjoy the sport freely,” says Liu.

Liu wants to study abroad for a second masters’ or a doctoral degree after she finishes her studies at XJTLU. “I’m interested in learning. I really love to explore the world as well as the way other people think,” Liu says.

By Luyun Shi
Translated by Xueqi Wang
Edited by Patricia Pieterse and Xinmin Han
Photos courtesy of Yuqing Liu

04 Mar 2022


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