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Shaoang Liu of Hungary (R) and Shaolin Sandor Liu (1081306148 (1)

Shaoang Liu of Hungary (R) and Shaolin Sandor Liu (HUN) at the ISU European Short Track Speed Skating Championships 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)

Young, charismatic and mind-blowingly fast, Hungarian brothers Shaolin Sandor Liu and Shaoang Liu are loving life right now. And, frankly, the Short Track Speed Skating world loves them right back.

 
 
 
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Feels great to be home 🤗

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Despite Shaoang currently being unfit to race, the Liu brothers have won a remarkable nine World Cup and four European Championship titles between them this season, all on the back of triumphing in the Men’s 5000m Relay at PyeongChang 2018 – Hungary’s first-ever Olympic Short Track gold medal.

More than just the success, however, it is the manner in which the pair have won that has sent fans, the media and even other skaters a little Liu loopy.

 Shaong Liu (HUN) WCSTSS KAZ 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)   1069796954

Shaong Liu (HUN) at the ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating (KAZ) 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)

“Of course, it is an honor to be famous among the young generation, that feeling is pretty cool,” said Shaoang, who has 33,000 Instagram followers, slightly behind the 61,300 his elder brother boasts.

“That is why we are trying to do some little moves, like the eyebrow thing and the high-fives like brothers – getting the power of the brothers (out there),” Shaolin Sandor added. “We are trying to keep moving the sport forwards like that.”

Shaolin Sandor is undeniably the extrovert of the duo, a man openly at ease in the limelight. A couple of moments in the 23-year-old’s company reveals that he will “dance to any song”, often laughs with his brother “until he cries”, partied “hard” after PyeongChang 2018 and considers himself the “funniest man in Short Track”. In summary, he is a hugely relatable figure enjoying the time of his life. Not that he has lost sight of the bigger picture.

“It (winning Olympic gold in PyeongChang) changed our life so much,” Shaolin said. “People recognize us on the street, not rushing to us or running and jumping on us. But they are calling us, TV shows and reality shows and a lot of events. It’s pretty good. We are enjoying it and we are trying to skate faster and faster to have this experience again and again.”

Shaolin Sandor Liu (HUN) ESTSSC 2019©International Skating Union (ISU) 1081829246 (1)

Shaolin Sandor Liu (HUN) at the ISU European Short Track Speed Skating Championships 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)

This is the key. While Shaolin knows that everything he enjoys off the ice comes as a result of what he does on it, skating with a sense of fun is absolutely critical for him to perform at his best.

“I feel I started getting a little bit humble on the ice (earlier this season), not doing any showing off and I told myself I should do more shows to the camera,” he said during the 2019 European Championships in Dordrecht, the Netherlands. “So I am being more relaxed and chilled.”

Shaolin Sandor Liu (HUN) WCSTSS GER 2019©International Skating Union (ISU) 1126955161

Shaolin Sandor Liu (HUN) at the ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating (GER) 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)

It certainly worked in Dordrecht. On the first day of finals Shaolin Sandor won gold in the opening 1500m with Shaoang taking silver before repeating the one-two, but in reverse positions, just a few hours later in the 500m. The pair also teamed up to claim the 5000m Men’s Relay title before Shaolin Sandor was declared the overall European champion – five finals, four gold medals for the Lius.

Shaoang Liu and Shaolin Sandor Liu (HUN) ESTSSC 2019©International Skating Union (ISU) 1081439014

At the ISU European Short Track Speed Skating Championships 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)

“Standing on the podium with Shaolin made it the best day in our lives,” Shaoang said, before Shaolin Sandor revealed what a huge help it is to have a family member racing alongside.

“I was so lucky my brother was behind me in the 1500m (at the 2019 ISU European Short Track Speed Skating Championships) and I didn’t have to worry about who was passing me,” Shaolin Sandor said. “I didn’t have to protect my second position, so it was easier to attack the first position.”

After winning three of this season’s first four 1000m World Cup races between them (two for Shaoang and one for Shaolin Sandor), the elder Liu has had to get used to racing without his sibling’s reassuring presence. In Dresden, Germany, at the fourth World Cup meet of the season, Shaoang had a bad fall on day one and broke three bones in his hand.

The 20 year old will not be fit to return to the ice until next season, but he has confirmed recently that he will travel to Sofia, Bulgaria to cheer his brother and the rest of the Hungarian team on at next month’s World Short Track Championships.

While the pair insist that, when fit, they never out-and-out “race” each other in training or even in competition, an element of rivalry does occasionally rear up.

Liu Brothers (HUN) ESTSSC 2019©International Skating Union (ISU) 1083136576

At the ISU European Short Track Speed Skating Championships 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)

“If I don’t want to wake up at 6am and go training, I know my brother is going to go and he is going to be training 100% so that wakes me up and I go and try and train 110%,” Shaolin Sandor laughed. “We have that healthy competitive thing between brothers.”

Ultimately, however, Short Track remains a family affair.

“When we were small our dad taught us that it doesn’t matter who gets the gold, it’s in our family so we both win,” Shaoang said diplomatically.

The skaters’ father is Chinese by birth and this link not only handed the brothers an opportunity to train in China for 18 months as youngsters, but it also means that the next winter Olympic Games have taken on even greater significance.

 
 
 
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Family 👨👩👦👦👸

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“We are trying to take the whole family to Beijing (2022),” Shaolin said. “Going back to China to race there is going to be a pretty good thing. It will be kind of like a home Games.”

His brother, in true Liu style, simply adds: “Beijing people really love us.”

To find out more about the Liu Brothers, watch them take over the @ISUSpeedSkating Instagram account on February 28, 2018 and find out what the life an elite Short Track Skater entails.