NATIONAL ice skater Julian Yee is not one for resting on his laurels.

After retaining his gold (medal) at the 30th SEA Games in Manila last month during the men’s figure skating event, he tells theSun of the continuous hard work that goes into keeping himself in top form.

Yee, 22, did the nation proud at the SEA Games with an almost-flawless performance that helped him retain the gold medal that he won during the 2017 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur, with a total score of 202.62.

Yee began figure skating at the age of four. After 18 years and many hours of training on ice, he says he has developed a deep understanding for the competitive sport.

He says: “It’s unlike any other sport, and not easy to master. Learning to skate is not too difficult, but learning figure skating elements like how to jump and spin, is tough, especially if you want to master it.”

Yee finds the sport challenging yet exciting, simply because “it requires much balance, agility and speed, among a host of other skills.

“Then you need to put everything together and make it look effortless ... that’s the tough part,” he explains.

The other challenge he faces is being able to balance his hectic life, which comprises of training, his studies, and his social life.

“I think it’s all about time management, learning to prioritise and decide what’s most important, and juggling it all,” he admits.

“But sometimes one needs to compromise here and there.”

On his skating routine for competitions, Yee says he works with his coach Michael Hopfes and choreographers.

Together, they first find a piece of music, pick up ‘hints’ from the lyrics and create a story, then they interpret it into a routine.

He explains: “I find musical hints within the lyrics of the music or what I can interpret from the music, and try to put it into my skating routine to get a feel of it and share my story however I want, and along with my emotions and expressions, I flow these into the movements on ice to make it a well-developed and well-performed programme.

“We work out what we could potentially have in the programme ... what this could mean, what this movement could signify... It is a huge team effort.”

Yee, who represented Malaysia in the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, describes how amazing it felt to be on that world stage.

“It was a huge feat for me to qualify – the biggest goal of my skating career – as the Winter Olympics is the pinnacle for competitive figure skaters.

“Just being there was an eye opening experience, skating and competing against international skaters; it’s something I will never ever forget.”

For now, Yee is busy preparing for the 2020 World Figure Skating Championships taking place in Montreal, Canada this March.

“I think we have found a good routine that works, so we’re keeping to it and focusing on improving the smaller details along the way.”

Asked what was the best piece of advice his coach ever gave him, Yee says it was: “... to feel the music, have fun in what I do, and always give it my best.”