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中国花艺设计师小伙赢得世界技能大赛金牌 - 2018年01月19日

A young florist with magic hands wins big

ROSES, balloon flowers, gerbera daisies — flowers of different shapes and colors dance on his fingertips, like jewels waiting to adorn a blushing bride.
Pan Shenhan, China’s youngest gold medal winner at the 44th WorldSkills Competition in October in Abu Khabi, United Arab Emirates, has the magic to turn a plain wooden frame into god’s garden.
The Shanghainese young man, who just turned 18, achieved high scores one after the other on his flower arrangements during the international competition known as the “Skill Olympics.”
Shanghai had six people participating in the competition and brought back two gold medals and two outstanding awards.
The other gold medalist is Yang Shanwei, a 20-year-old teacher at the Shanghai Yangpu Vocational and Technical School from Sichuan Province who won in auto body repair.
With his fantastic imagination and sense of color, Pan visualized virtual concepts like sand, wind and water in his floral works where he allowed east to meet west.
“This is the first time for a Chinese contestant to attend the WorldSkills’ floristry section,” says Zhu Yingying, Pan’s coach and leader of China’s WorldSkills floristry team.
She is proud, and rightly so.
“You know, there has never been a newly joined event that brought China home a gold medal before,” she says.
Pan is a student of Shanghai Urban Construction Engineering School, which is also known as Shanghai Gardening School.
With an art background in middle school, he was recommended to attend the school’s floristry training camp by his class adviser during the winter vacation of 2016 and entered the city’s floristry team two months later.
Between August 2016 and June 2017, the talented young man defeated competitors nationwide and became one of the highest-scoring members of the national team. During the one-and-a-half-year training, Pan stayed in the training room from 8am to 8pm, or even later, to make three to four works each day. Although his home is only four Metro stops away from the school, he rarely went home but often slept at school to save more time.
If he thought there was a flaw in his work, he would remake it until it was perfect. He would perform one simple action hundreds of times.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s a game or life itself, I think enjoying the fun of the process is more important than the result,” Pan says.
According to Zhu, Pan competed with contestants from 20 countries and regions at the WorldSkills, including a few frequent medal winners from South Korea.
“It’s not easy for us to defeat those strong competitors,” she says.
Changes in the competition rules also brought unexpected challenges.
“Previously, the requirements were often released half an hour before starting so the contestants could prepare,” Zhu recalls. “But this time the preparation period was cut to only 15 minutes, and the former 15-minute discussion among contestants, translators and coaches was canceled.”
Pan had to memorize the 700-plus English expressions in the guidebook and try to understand the requirements on his own.
“Thankfully, he made it,” Zhu says.
Zhu says if Pan became too proud of his performance, they would “discourage” him by saying the other players also did a good job. However, if he felt frustrated, they would comfort him by “criticizing” other participants’ works.
But most importantly they gave him respect.
Generally, the players would follow their coaches’ orders. In Pan’s case, however, his coaches let him follow his heart and create what he wanted.
“We talked about the design, but I liked to listen to his own ideas before giving my advice,” says Xiang Yiming, head of the coaching team.
Pan was appreciated for his quick response when an emergency came up in one task, which required players to use a black wooden box to make the frame.
He soon realized that there were no screws provided to fix the joints, so he made holes on the board with an electric drill and fashioned bamboo into makeshift “screws.”
The judges were impressed.
However, Pan’s way to championship was not always smooth during the four-day event.
“One of the tasks was to make a table decoration with a low table,” Zhu recalls. “He cut the given table to make a structure to contain the flowers. After he finished it, to make his work easier for the judges to look at and evaluate, he put the work on a table.”
That turned out to be a bad idea — the judges thought he used an extra table in his work and gave him a relatively low score.
“We argued that the second table wasn’t part of his work, but it didn’t work,” Zhu says.
“I didn’t tell him about that, because I believed even with that score, he could still win the gold,” she adds. “And he finally succeeded.”
In Pan’s hands, even a plain branch could add a brilliant touch after being magically placed. He knows the details of the plants’ growth and how best to use them to achieve a great look.
Since competitors can’t compete in WorldSkills twice, Pan says he wants to be a coach and teach the next Chinese floristry contestants. He hopes one day he can become a world-renowned master floral designer like his idol Gregor Lersch, who brought the trend of doing floristry with tubes and steel to the world.
But currently, as an examinee-to-be for the national college entrance exams, or gaokao, Pan is concentrating on his study.
“Because of the intensive training, I was off school for more than a year,” Pan says. “My next step is to complete my study and enter the university of my dreams. During my leisure time, I will continue floristry and seek better development.”
 

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