CHANGCHUN, China, Oct. 6 (Xinhua) -- Beginning to learn figure skating at the age of seven and turning to short track speed skating at 11, Wang Yang spent 17 years pursuing his Winter Olympic dream as an athlete. After retirement at 24, his dream is still alive making hand-made ice skates.
It takes three to four working days to make a pair of ice skates tailored for athletes. Making shoes molds, sewing shoes bladders, plating the upper skins and assembling blade, Wang Yang scrutinizes every detail of the process with his own eyes.
"I know how significant a suitable pair of ice skates is for the athletes because I was an athlete myself," Wang said.
"Back then, almost all the skating boots I wore were imported products, which were not designed to fit the foot shapes of the Chinese people, so they were not comfortable to wear. I was thinking about when we could have our own exclusive ice skates some time," Wang Yang recalled. "At the beginning, I just modify the boots by myself, it is more comfortable to put gauze and quick-drying glue on the stress parts inside the shoes. Afterwards, I was trying to make shoes by myself."
Wang Yang had made his first pair of ice skates together with another craftsman he knew. The comfortably fitting sense as he tried them on made him confident. Then he bought a sewing machine and began to learn sewing skills by himself. After he made constant adjustments to feedbacks of athletes, his shoes gained fame among athletes and so began his "shoemaker" career.
In order to find suitable materials, he had visited the leather markets in Lanzhou, Guangzhou, Beijing, Shanghai and other cities across the country. In addition, he was strict with every detail from the materials' sewing thread, shoelaces to shoelace buckles.
In 2011, Wang Yang acquired a bankrupted Australian ice skates company. "Their technology is backward, but it gives me a chance to learn about this industry," he said.
He spent a lot of time learning about steel, visiting many steel processing enterprises, and finally made breakthroughs in technology previous monopolized by foreign companies.
At the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games, Chinese skater Zhang Hong was wearing a pair of boots made by Wang Yang to win China's first-ever speed skating Olympic gold in the women's 1,000 meters.
The Canadian Short Track Youth Team, the Korean Short Track Youth Team, and the world champions Fan Kexin and Wu Dajing have all worn the skating boots brand Wang Yang founded.
"Short track and speed skating competitions are becoming more intense. If athlete can improve by 0.1 seconds with my skating boots, they might be able to win a medal," Wang Yang said. "I once dreamed of standing on top of the podium, now I hope that athletes who wear my skating boots can make their and my Winter Olympic dream come true."
With Beijing 2022 approaching, the enthusiasm for ice-snow sports is increasing day by day in China. Wang Yang's skating boots business also welcomes golden opportunity. As a professional skating boots maker, he also makes high quality amateur skating boots.
"My amateur skates sold about five thousand pairs in 2017 and sold about ten thousands pairs last year," Wang said.
Now Wang Yang's factory is to go into full production. "I hope more athletes will wear homemade skating boots to perform the best in the near future Beijing Winter Olympics Games," he added.