Snow­boarder’s el­e­gant tricks earn sil­ver

China Daily - - FRONT PAGE - By SUN XIAOCHEN in Pyeongchang, Repub­lic of Korea sunx­i­aochen@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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.

FENG YONGBIN / CHINA DAILY

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.

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