Su soars into history books
Su Yiming of China reacts during his gold medal-winning performance in the men's snowboard Big Air final in Beijing on Tuesday. [Photo by Feng Yongbin/China Daily]
China's boy wonder adds gold to silver in sensational Games debut
Snowboarding prodigy Su Yiming etched his name in the history books by winning China's first Olympic gold in the sport on Tuesday to cap his stunning Games debut.
By cleanly stomping back-to-back 1800 tricks, the teenager landed the biggest prize so far in his young career－gold in the men's Big Air at the Beijing Winter Olympics.
The feat realized a childhood dream to reach the pinnacle of the sport, which he began to learn at the age of 4.
Now with two shinning medals, including a slopestyle silver, hung around his neck, the 17-year-old described his superb Olympic debut as an insane experience that has made all his sacrifices worthwhile.
"This feels so surreal that I've finally accomplished what I've dreamed of since I was little," an emotional Su said after finishing his third run as a victory lap.
Su secured the gold with a winning total of 182.5 points from his first two jumps.
"When Beijing won the Olympic bid (in 2015), I was still in elementary school, yet I promised myself that I would try to make it to my home Olympics. To many people, it sounded like an unrealistic goal.
"Now it's become a reality, and even better I have finished on top of the podium. I am so proud of myself and thankful to my coach, everybody who supported me along the way and my country."
Also putting down two excellent runs, Norway's Mons Roisland finished second, 10.75 points behind Su, while Canadian rider Max Parrot won bronze (170.25 points). Parrot edged Su to gold in last week's slopestyle.
Parrot was full of praise for Su, who idolized the Canadian veteran when he was younger.
"I'm really happy I've been able to help him reach his goals and I told him that he's gotta make me push my way to be a better snowboarder as well," said Parrot, a five-time World Cup winner in Big Air.
"I think my goal and also the goals of most of the riders is to promote our sport and to give our love to our sport to anyone else out there and hopefully we have some more younger snowboarders coming soon to the world."
Over the past four years, Su has combined his innate talent with hard work－under the guidance of renowned Japanese coach Yasuhiro Sato - to produce one of the swiftest rises to prominence the sport has ever seen.
When the Shougang Big Air venue hosted its first international event－a World Cup meet in 2019－Su was an obscure qualifier, who didn't even make the final runs.
Just over two years later, Su is the name on everyone's lips at the venue's Olympic debut－drawing the whole nation's attention to the sport he loves.
"The biggest motivation for me is my love for snowboarding," Su said, when asked about the secret to his success. "In snowboarding, I feel like I can demonstrate my own style and creativity. Every time I ride my board, it's always a blissful moment. I hope through my experience, I can inspire more young people to get interested in the sport."
Su's golden day matched fellow teenage skier Gu Ailing, who also claimed gold in Big Air's freeski equivalent on Feb 8 at the towering slope built on the former site of a relocated steel mill.
Boasting multi-medal performances at the Games, both young athletes have shot to celebrity status in the country while attracting hordes of new fans on social media.
Su, a former child actor who featured in action movies, said the Olympic gold will encourage him to seek for more breakthroughs－even beyond his athletic career.
"I enjoy snowboarding just as much as I enjoy acting," said Su, who turns 18 on Friday.
"I think I still have a lot of possibilities to explore in my future career either in snowboarding or in acting. But now I just want to enjoy the moment and celebrate it as the best possible birthday gift."