BEIJING, April 18 (Xinhua) -- The retired Chinese figure skating coach Yao Bin was elected to the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame Class of 2018, the nominating chair Lawrence Mondschein announced on Tuesday.
Yao was joined by Olympic champions Shizuka Arakawa (Japan), Viktor Petrenko (Ukraine, Unified Team, Soviet Union), pairs team Elena Valova and Oleg Vasiliev (Soviet Union), two-time world champion ice dance team Irina Moiseeva and Andrei Minenkova (Soviet Union) and choreographer Sandra Bezic (Canada).
"On behalf of the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame, we are astonished by the breath of accomplishiments by the Class of 2018, where all figure skating disciplines are represented, " Mondschein said. "This is also the largest class since the first year of elections in 1976."
China's legendary coach Yao was the driving force behind the Chinese pairs powerhouse program for more than 30 years. In the final decade of his career, he coached three teams - at the same time - to World and Olympic medals, including the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games champions Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo. His teams earned five Olympic medals, six World Champs medals and seven Grand Prix Final titles.
"It's a great honor not only for me, but also for our country," said Yao, who had retired from coaching last year.
"I was the first generation of pairs figure skaters in China. We caught up with the good times. Figure skating is not only competitive sport, but also a combination with culture and art. I do feel the credit should go to all the skaters, coaches and other working staff in our team," the 61-year-old added.