Skater first to represent NZ at Games

Yanhao Li has made history by becoming the first New Zealand ice figure skater to be selected for the Winter Youth Olympic Games.

The Auckland based 15-year-old, commonly known as Dwayne, has been named in the New Zealand team for the Gangwon 2024 Winter Youth Olympics and will be one of just 18 figure skaters to compete in the individual men’s event.

"I’m really happy to get the opportunity to represent New Zealand," Li said.

"I’m hoping to perform to the best of my ability and showcase all I’ve been training hard for."

Li, in Dunedin recently to defend his junior men’s title at the national figure skating championships, was born in Beijing, where he began skating aged 4 before his family moved to New Zealand when he was 8.

He splits his time between school at Macleans College and the Paradice ice rinks.

"I love the feeling of weightlessness when I’m jumping on ice," he said.

"I really enjoy rush of wind when picking up speed."

"This sport has given me a lot of opportunities to travel the world, which I love, and I’d like to thank my coach, parents, skating rink, and New Zealand Ice Figure Skating for all the work they’ve done to help get me to this point."

Li recently became the first New Zealander to win an international figure skating medal, claiming bronze at the Junior Grand Prix in Bangkok.

He is known for his Biellmann spin — a variation of an upright spin where the skater grabs their foot and pulls it above their head.