Photo by Chung Chow
Travelling over 6,500 kilometres from East Coast to West Coast in Canada leaves a lot of time for distractions. Add a large arena full of fans and judges watching you’re every move and the entire experience can be overwhelming.
But Wesley Chiu took it in all stride recently to win his first national title. The modest, but supremely talented Richmond athlete, topped the Novice Men’s Division at the 2019 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships held in Saint John, New Brunswick in mid-January.
“I had been dreaming and wanting this ever since the season started,” said Chiu, as dedicated to his academic studies as a Grade 8 student at Richmond Christian Secondary School as to taking his skating to the next level.
Demonstrating all the elements that reflect natural skill and hard work, Chiu won both the short and long programs to earn a combined score of 140.83 points—nearly 30 points more than the second-place finisher. It’s an emphatic conclusion to his Novice career and an equally encouraging sign of what is ahead as he prepares to enter the Junior Division.
Although Chiu is a natural jumper and possesses off-the-chart speed, he feels he needs to improve his performance level. Ironically, his younger sister Gladys is a dancer, and his skating coach Keegan Murphy believes that it may actually help Chiu recognize its importance.
Skating to a Frank Sinatra’s version of "As Time Goes By from Casablanca,” Chiu says he listened to the music over and over again. And with the help of coach Murphy, he visualized each step of his journey to the Novice title.
Chiu says the tough training days help him push through. He trains on the ice an average of two hours each day, with an additional hour off the ice which is also dedicated to skating.
“I feel it’s really important to build the fundamentals off the ice before taking them on the ice,” he says.
His almost insatiable dedication to be the best he can was apparent the day he first stepped onto the ice as a precocious six-year-old.
“I was taking Can Skate lessons and I needed a lot of help,” he says. “I fell down a lot. But it was definitely a challenge I felt like I wanted to take on. I thought it was a good idea to see where I could go.”
Quiet spoken and humble, Chiu is already exceeding his own goals and demonstrating the potential for greatness.
“He’s very gifted, and while the results (at nationals) isn’t really what matters, as a coach I’m so pleased for him that he was able to walk into that arena and do what he’s capable of,” said Murphy. “Wesley is a very unassuming person. He’s just a kid who loves skating and layer by layer his success is going to make everything possible. The most remarkable thing about him at this point, from others, is that there isn’t any one huge weakness. He’s very well-rounded and can do all the triples, and we’re already working on quads. But he’s also very musical and engages his audience. I know he’s going to go far. Our job is to ensure the most efficient path.”