Published: 11:15, February 8, 2022 | Updated: 11:15, February 8, 2022
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Snowboarder Su joins idols on podium
By ​Cui Jia in Zhangjiakou

Teen takes silver as nation makes Olympic debut in slopestyle event

Chinese snowboarder Su Yiming (left), who won silver in the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics men's slopestyle final, celebrates on Monday with gold medalist Max Parrot (middle) and bronze medalist Mark McMorris, both from Canada, at Zhangjiakou's Genting Snow Park in Hebei province. (WEI XIAOHAO / CHINA DAILY)

Su Yiming said it's a dream come true to win silver in the men's snowboard slopestyle competition at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and stand on the podium with both of his idols.

But for the 17-year-old Chinese snowboarder, the sport is never about scores, but rather about having as much fun as possible.

"When I was on the podium hugging Max Parrot and Mark McMorris, it felt unreal. Being able to win a silver medal at my first Winter Olympics on home soil is just unbelievable," Su said after the men's snowboard slopestyle final at Genting Snow Park in Zhangjiakou, Hebei province, on Monday.

The medal won by Su, the youngest athlete taking part in the slopestyle competition, is a breakthrough for the host country, since it was the first time a Chinese athlete has competed in the event at the Olympics. Su only made his snowboarding World Cup slopestyle debut on Jan 1.

The Chinese teen sensation put down three stunning runs, which included two backside 1800 Indy grabs, to take the silver, while Parrot and McMorris, who are both from Canada and have been Su's inspiration, won gold and bronze, respectively.

"I've dreamed about this moment," Su said, "but when it actually arrived I felt something that I've never experienced. I went blank."

"When I stood at the starting point up in the mountain and saw everyone was cheering for me, I felt there was nothing to worry about. I knew I had my homeland behind my back."

Influenced by his parents, who are skiing enthusiasts, Su began to snowboard when he was just 4 years old. At that time, his parents couldn't even find a snowboard in China that fit him.

"They played key roles in helping me fall in love with snowboarding and become a professional snowboarder when I was 14," Su said.

Su had a promising career as an actor before pursuing his gold medal dreams. He played the role of Shuan Zi, who is a good skier, in director Tsui Hark's 2014 film The Taking of Tiger Mountain.

The youngster decided to focus on snowboarding in 2015 after Beijing won the bid to host the 2022 Winter Games.

"I want to say to all Chinese snowboarders that they should keep working hard and never give up, because dreams can come true," he said.

When Su started snowboarding, he was always watching videos of McMorris.

"That's how I learned snowboarding. Now I have the chance to compete with him. It's such a crazy moment," Su said.

McMorris, 28, said Su is a true snowboarder. "It's not easy to compete against the big dogs, and he's doing that and he's doing good."

McMorris said that he has regularly visited China in the past 12 years, and that Su was just 5 years old when he first met him.

"He's now grown into a strong snowboarder," the Canadian veteran said.

Parrot said Su, whom he only learned about this year, gave him a lot of trouble on his way to winning the finals.

"I told him that I am proud of him. Actually, he's already among the best snowboarders in the world," Parrot said.

The 27-year-old Canadian said he knows that Su sees him as an idol.

"I remember 10 years ago when I was going through my first contest and I was riding with my idols for the first time. I remember what that feeling was. Hearing someone tell me that today means a lot for me," Parrot said.

Enjoying snowboarding is always the most important thing for Su.

"All I did today is enjoy the runs and concentrate on my tricks. As long as I am on my snowboard I am happy," he said.

Su will also pose threats to the top snowboarders at Big Air Shougang, which will start on Feb 14.

In December 2021, he soared to Big Air gold at Steamboat Springs, Colorado, in the United States, landing a backside 1800 Indy grab and a frontside 1800 tail grab in his first two runs, which had never been done at an International Ski Federation competition.

In addition, he was the first to complete a backside 1980 Indy Crail on a snowboard and was certified by Guinness World Records for setting a record in January.

"I will surely use my best and most difficult trick at the Big Air," Su said.