Sports / China

Snowboarding has long way to go in China

By Gao Qihui ( Updated: 2014-12-07 10:06

Snowboarding has long way to go in China

Emil Ulsletten from Norway raises up his board after winning the final round of the “Air & Style” Beijing Event on Dec 6, 2014. [Photo provided to]

Emil Ulsletten, a snowboarder for Norway, finally realized the dream he has pursued since childhood when he won the championship of the Beijing stop of "Air & Style" – one of the most influential snowboarding events – at China's National Olympic Stadium on Dec 6.

"It is insane and out of my expectation and I have never thought of this a couple of years ago," said Ulsletten who scored the highest among the world's top 24 riders from 10 countries at this event.

Though Sebastien Toutant from Canada accomplished the longest stay in the air for 2.801 seconds winning the "Red Bull Airtime", Norwegians unexpectedly prevailed in this event with Emil's two compatriots Stale Sandech and Torgeir Bergrem respectively finishing in second and third place, reflecting Europe's dominance in the winter games.

It took Europe 18 years to develop snowboarding to its current level, said Andrew Hourmont, one of the founders of the Air & Style Event. He added that China should be patient in developing this sport.

In Europe, where there is a large skiing population, it is relatively easy for beginners to find peers who also ski among family members, friends and classmates.

Second place winner Stale Sandbech, who also took home a silver model at the Sochi Olympics Games, benefited much from a supportive environment.

Having an older brother, a snowboard photographer, as a mentor, the availability of the snowboarding school and an almost infinite amount of talent, it didn't take long for Sandbech's potential in skiing to develop after he first strapped himself on a snowboard at the age of eight.

Things were not so smooth for Liu Wei, the only Chinese rider at the Air & Style Beijing Event this year. Liu started snowboarding 10 years ago and had to learn it by himself due to the absence of teaching and guidance.

"At the beginning, I watched some snowboarding videos of foreign riders and learned their tricks," said Liu. "The size of the snowboarding population is essential for this sport's development in China."

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