WATCH: Meet Sándor Liu Shaolin, Chinese-Hungarian speed skating heartthrob
Fifth in the 1500m men’s short track speed skating event at the Pyeongchang Olympics, first in our hearts
At the age of twenty-one, Chinese-Hungarian short track speed skater Sándor Liu Shaolin (刘少林) has already established himself as one of the premier competitors in the sport, taking home gold in the 500m event at the 2016 Seoul world championships and finishing third overall. Last week he placed fifth in the final heat of the 1500m event at the Pyeongchang Olympics.
While his credentials as a skater are indisputable, and his future in the sport seems bright, Liu has recently been receiving recognition in Korean and Chinese media for intangibles unrelated to his athletic prowess: namely, his show-stopping good looks, swagger on the ice, and charm off of it.
Look no further than this montage from KBS News of his signature gesture:
Born to a Chinese father and a Hungarian mother, Liu has a younger brother, 19-year-old Liu Shaoang (刘少昂), who also happens to be a devilishly handsome short track speed skater competing in Pyeongchang. This video produced by the Olympic Channel is a testament to their inseparability:
“We skate together, we fight together, we work together, we live together,” Shaoang says. “So basically we do everything together.” Shaolin adds, “I always say he’s my second relationship.”
Their father, originally from Tianjin, spoke Chinese to them growing up and even moved the family to Changchun for a year in 2007, so that the Liu brothers could train intensively together.
In 2012 they hired a new coach, Lina Zhang, with whom they now speak primarily Chinese. Shaolin recently posted a video to his Douyin (抖音) account wishing his followers a happy lunar new year in Mandarin.
The brothers still retain a distinct dongbei (northeastern) accent from their time in Changchun. In a cameo appearance on the popular CCTV1 program “Voice” last year, they impressed host Sa Beining (撒贝宁) with their fluency and bravado:
And, for good measure, here’s Shaolin deftly fielding a painfully awkward series of questions about his girlfriend, Scottish speed skating phenom and 2017 Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year Elise Christie: