In the interest of balance, the Chinese team could have used some Yin at the Winter Goodwill Games last week. China brought the world's two best female short-track speed skaters to Lake Placid, N.Y.: Yang Yang and Yang Yang. No, they're not related. Yang Yang (A), as the 23-year old from Harin is known in skating circles, won golds in the 1,000 meters and 3,000-meter relay. Twenty-two-year old Yang Yang (S) (below right, ling A), from Jilin, came to Lake Placid as an alternate se her coaches felt she'd been overracing.
Their names, though pronounced the same, are written differ-n Chinese and translate differently into English. A's means Flag; S's means Sunshine. Several years ago international officials asked the Chinese coaches to come up with a way to help Westerners distinguish between the two. The coaches decided to call them (L) for large and (S) for small, though the Yangs are, in fact, about the same size. The older Yang said she liked neither the large designation nor the coaches' other suggestion of (O) for older. She chose (A) as an inoffensive alternative. The younger Yang stayed with (S). Clear?
The Yangs, who between them won all five short track races at the world championships last March, enjoy having a little fun with their names. When national team members went to a Beijing doctor's office last month for medical checkups, the Yangs walked into the examining room together when their name was called. "The nurse was so confused," Yang Yang (S) told an interpreter last week through muffled laughter. "It was she who needed a doctor."