Hongkongers have their differences, but when the 2018 Winter Olympics kicks off next Friday in Pyeongchang, South Korea, chances are they’ll all be cheering for one person: Arabella Ng, the city’s sole Olympian.
Born in Hong Kong and raised in Canada, Arabella will be the first person to represent the city in Olympic Alpine skiing, racing in both the slalom and giant slalom events.
As you might imagine, the 16-year-old, who moved three years ago to study and train in the United States, has got a tough training schedule.
But while she makes her preparations for her first games, Arabella took some time out to tell Coconuts Hong Kong about her life as an Alpine skier via email.
On her start in skiing:
I learned to ski in Whistler at a young age and started Ski School when I was around 3. I joined Whistler Mountain Ski Club and started ski racing when I was 10 or 11. I joined the Ski Club partly because my older brother had started racing a few years earlier and partly because I would always see racers around the mountain and think they looked so cool!
On representing HK:
It’s an incredible honor to be able to represent Hong Kong. Thank you so much to the Olympic Committee and Ski Association for selecting me! Going to the Olympics is a dream come true and I’m happy that I can add Hong Kong to the list of teams competing in Korea.
It’s been kind of crazy and I honestly haven’t really processed that I’m about to be competing in the Olympics yet. The reaction has been great and I have had great support from Rossignol with equipment and Under Armour with some awesome jackets. Everyone seems excited to see a Hong Kong skier at the Olympics.
On her training schedule and maintaining a social life:
In the spring and fall I have regular school, but we also travel to Chile, Colorado twice, and Norway for a couple weeks each year to train on snow. Whenever we are not on snow, we do a lot cross training with soccer, lacrosse and mountain biking and also dry land training to prepare for the winter season. In the winter, we usually ski every day except Monday. In the mornings, we train and then we have school from 2pm-6pm and also more dry land training.
We race most weekends as well as some week days. My school, GMVS (the Green Mountain Valley School in Vermont), is really helpful about missing classes for races because everyone is always traveling and they know how to deal with it and help you stay caught up. Because of the way GMVS works, everyone is doing the same thing, so it doesn’t really impact your social life — we are all in it together.
On slalom and giant slalom, its difficulty, speed and her safety:
Mental focus is very important as even a slight mistake can mean you ski out or crash. I’m not really sure how fast we go, maybe around 40 km/h in GS (giant slalom) and up to 90 km/h in Super G (super giant slalom) depending on the course. Once you start, things are happening too fast to think about the risk.
On her favorite things to do in Hong Kong:
I was born in Hong Kong and lived there for a few years. We usually go back to Hong Kong every year or two to visit family and friends. The dim sum there is delicious and I like to shop! This summer in Hong Kong I went bowling for the first time, which I’m really bad at, but it was lots of fun.
Subscribe to The Coconuts Podcast for top trending news and pop culture from Southeast Asia and Hong Kong.