When one thinks of Singapore, one of the first things that comes to mind is the humid summer weather all-year. In fact, you may be hard pressed to associate the ice, and winter sports, with our country. 

But we are actually home to a budding ice skating athlete who recently became the first Singaporean male figure skater to qualify for the coveted International Skating Union Four Continents Figure Skating Championships! 

Meet Pagiel Sng, one of Singapore’s best young ice skaters

The 18-year-old skater doesn’t remember ever not ice skating. Pagiel was only three years old when he moved to Denmark with his family. There, he picked up ice skating. A coach  saw his potential and Pagiel trained under his wing until he returned to Singapore at the age of eight.


Pagiel Sng at the SEA Open Figure Skating Trophy, where he won Gold on home ground! (Photo: Singapore Ice Skating Association)

Pagiel is no stranger to carving his own path in the ice skating scene. In 2019, he was the first male figure skater to represent Singapore at the SEA Games. Three years on and despite competition and travel disruptions caused by the pandemic, Pagiel competed in the inaugural SEA Open Figure Skating Trophy 2022 held in Singapore in September this year, where the Singapore Sports School student successfully performed the quad toe, leading to his gold medal victory. 

The quad toe involves a toe loop jump - a backward jump, followed by a full turn in the air, and then landing on the same skate - with four rotations in the air before landing. In simple terms, this trick requires the skater to leap off one foot, spin four times in the air, and then land on the same foot. 


Japanese figure skater, Yuzuru Hanyu performing a quad toe at the Winter Olympics in 2014. (Source: Giphy)


Pagiel’s execution of the challenging manoeuvre helped him score a total of 172.12 points at the competition. His score also qualified him for the ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in 2023 - making him the first male Singaporean figure skater to qualify for the event! 

Asked about his feelings post-win, Pagiel says enthusiastically: “I want to put Singapore on the map for figure skating and show everyone that we can compete internationally!”  

The Sore Truth about Figure Skating

While Pagiel may seem to be spinning and jumping to tunes effortlessly on the ice, the training that leads up to his performances are incredibly gruelling. 

In fact, Pagiel openly describes his training journey as a struggle. In the weeks leading up to the competition, his usual training venue was very crowded, and his coaching sessions were limited. Skaters of all levels, from advanced to beginners, have to share the same venue, so he found it difficult to properly train for some of his routines. 


Pagiel made his debut in the 2019 SEA Games, where he finished fifth. (Photo: Singapore Ice Skating Association)

When training to perform the challenging ‘quad toe’, Paigel also suffered numerous falls and even cut his hand on the ice several times. Pagiel recalls: “I had so many bruises all over. Sometimes, it was hard to walk the day after because the falls were pretty bad, and my joints were aching.” But he didn’t let that stop him from achieving his dreams: “I just bandaged my wounds to stop any bleeding, and I just kept going.” 

It was when his coach, Robi Chalmers, flew in from the United States, that Pagiel began feeling more relieved and productive in training sessions, which helped him mentally.

What It Takes to Be a Winner

Though Pagiel is one of Singapore’s most talented home-grown athletes, he admits that off the ice, he constantly doubts his own abilities. 

“As an athlete, I am quite insecure, and I tend to not have a lot of confidence. Even if a training session goes well, I still have low self confidence in competing,” he admits. “The SEA Open Figure Skating Trophy 2022 win gave me a much needed confidence boost and reaffirms my efforts. It makes all those training sessions worth it.”

Pagiel has his sights set on future accomplishments, too. These days, his schedule involves dedicated preparation for the ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating in Egna, Italy, which commences on 12 October. He hopes to also qualify for Junior Worlds in 2023 and the Milan Winter Olympics in 2026. 

“My main takeaway from the SEA Open Figure Skating competition is that I have to trust my own abilities. I will take the win and capitalise on it by encouraging myself to push myself even more during training. I have told myself not to be too satisfied with the win and get complacent,” Pagiel says humbly. 


Pagiel warming up before going out on the ice at the 2019 SEA Games. (Photo: Annice Lynn/SISA)

While other skaters walk around and interact with others to calm down their nerves before performing, Pagiel, who is an introvert, lets his skating do the talking at competitions. While he does get nervous, he feels at ease once he’s alone on the ice. 

“When I’m on the ice, I feel I can express myself and put on a good performance,'' Pagiel explains. 

He admits to over-thinking before going out on the ice, but has found that turning up the music helps him quash his self-doubts. 

In fact, his go-to choice of music falls under a lesser-known subgenre of hip hop and trap music called ‘phonk’. The loud, distorted properties of the genre allows Pagiel to get in the zone and block out the noise. 

We hope to witness him achieve great things as he represents Singapore in the upcoming ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating from 12 to 15 October 2022. All the best, Pagiel!