Move aside Gu, here comes Su – teenager wins ‘insane’ Games gold

Gold medallist Su celebrates during the venue ceremony after the snowboard men's big air final run during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at the Big Air Shougang in Beijing on Feb 15, 2022. — AFP

BEIJING: Step aside Eileen Gu. Hosts China have a new teenage hero at the Beijing Olympics after 17-year-old Su Yiming on Feb 15 added an emphatic snowboard Big Air gold to his controversial silver.

Su scorched to the Big Air title with a runaway score of 182.50 to win his second medal at the Games, having been unlucky to only come away with silver in last week’s slopestyle.

The former child actor was so good that he had the title firmly in the bag even before his third and final run.

Su’s latest remarkable success went viral on China’s Twitter-like Weibo, where a hashtag about it clocked up about 750 million views in just a few hours.

He took a dominant gold ahead of Norway’s Mons Roisland, on 171.75, with Canada’s Max Parrot – the slopestyle winner – taking bronze with 170.25.

Su has competed in just six World Cup events and last week already became the first men's snowboarding Olympic medallist in China’s history.

“This feels insane, it’s something I’ve never experienced before... I can’t believe I got this gold,” said Su, for whom this was an early birthday present – he turns 18 on Friday.

“I trained every day for the past four years. Every night I was dreaming about this moment.”

When he was eight, Su appeared in the epic action movie The Taking Of Tiger Mountain, before deciding to fully dedicate himself to snowboarding.

With hair that tumbles down below his ears, he still has something of the film star about him.

‘All about love’

Su’s silver in the slopestyle had been contentious, with many experts saying that he should have been awarded gold ahead of Parrot.

Iztok Sumatic, the head judge in Beijing, subsequently told the snowboarding magazine Whitelines that they made a mistake in the scoring of Parrot.

Su put all that behind him on Feb 15 and said he had been motivated by competing on home snow and by his passion for the sport.

“I wanted to try my best for this,” he said.

“The most important thing though is all about love. Snowboarding is not just about competition.”

In a touching moment, Su pointed at his parents when he was standing on the podium.

“I haven’t seen my parents for the past seven months because I went to Europe for training and to many places for competitions,” he said, attending a press conference with the Chinese flag proudly wrapped around his shoulders.

“This moment is so special for me and also my family.”

Su even managed – for a time at least – to upstage Californian-born Gu, his Chinese team-mate and the unofficial face of the Games.

The 18-year-old Gu, who represented the United States before switching to the country of her mother’s birth in 2019, also now has one gold and one silver after she came second in the women’s freestyle skiing slopestyle earlier in the day.

The home nation, who have little in the way of tradition when it comes to winter sports, have now won six golds in Beijing.

Four years ago at the Pyeongchang Games, before Gu and Su came on the scene, they took home only one gold. – AFP

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