Snowboarder’s elegant tricks earn silver
A Chinese snowboarder’s history-making performance at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics has boosted the delegation’s morale while galvanizing the winter sports boom back home.
Boasting highflying tricks and an elegant style, Chinese snowboarder Liu Jiayu finished second in the women’s halfpipe at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games on Tuesday, making history by becoming the first Chinese Olympic medalist in snowboarding.
US teenager Chloe Kim won the gold with flawless final jumps while her compatriot Arielle Gold finished third in the final, held at the Phoenix Snow Park in the northeastern county of the Republic of Korea.
To bring her country a first Olympic medal in snowboarding — a new, yet fast-growing, winter sport in China — is a long-cherished dream come true for Liu, a three-time Winfellow ter Olympian.
“After all the setbacks during my previous Games experiences, I’ve grown mature and rekindled my passion for the sport, which has carried me through injuries and disappointments to realize my goal,” said Liu, who narrowly missed reaching the podium and finished fourth on her Olympic debut in 2010 in Vancouver, Canada. Riding to stardom by winning the world championship at 16 in 2009, Liu suffered a series of shoulder injuries before and after the 2014 Sochi Winter Games in Russia. “What’s more satisfying for me is I can write history for my country in this sport and draw more attention to it with my performance,” she said. Liu’s feat has inspired her Olympians.
Women’s freestyle aerial skier Xu Mengtao posted a congratulatory letter to Liu on her Sina Weibo account, saying, “You sent our delegation to a flying start and you deserved the reward for all the sacrifice you made.”
The celebration on snow has also softened the blow of China’s loss in its strongest event on ice.
China’s short-track speedskating team failed to defend the women’s 500-meter gold medal for a record fourth time after skaters Fan Kexin and Qu Chunyu both crashed out at the semifinals on Tuesday.
The sprinting event, first won by current International Olympic Committee member Yang Yang in 2002 at the Salt Lake Games, was not won by another country through the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
Already a world power at the Summer Olympics, China is trying to narrow the gap with world winter sports powers at both elite and grassroots levels in the buildup to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.
Snowboarder Liu Jiayu celebrates after the women’s halfpipe final at the Winter Olympic Games at Phoenix Snow Park in Pyeongchang on Tuesday. With her performance, Liu became the first Chinese Olympic medalist in the sport.