Sublime Su soars in another Shougang showstopper

2023-12-04 10:01:15China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

Su Yiming (right) and Ryoma Kimata douse each other in champagne after Saturday's Big Air final. (Wei Xiaohao/CHINA DAILY)

Not the monster slope, not his rivals and definitely not a 21-month hiatus from competing on the World Cup circuit — nothing could stop Olympic champion Su Yiming from dominating his first FIS event since Beijing 2022.

On Saturday, the 19-year-old sensation reigned supreme at the iconic Shougang Big Air venue, winning his second career World Cup title roared on by rousing support from the home crowds.

As stylish as ever, yet imposing more control in his moves, Su landed a switch backside 1800 melon — a trick he had learned just days ago — in his first run to open the final with a bang.

He then stepped it up with his second attempt, challenged by eventual runner-up Ryoma Kimata of Japan, by stomping a bigger backside 1980 indy. That earned Su a combined score of 184.5 points and gave him an almost insurmountable lead going into the third run.

"Ming is King!" Swiss rider Nicolas Huber, who finished fifth, exclaimed after Su's first run before all the other riders joined him to cheer for Su in his second run, for which the Chinese star scored a final-high 95.5 points.

Back-to-back 1800 tricks had propelled Su to a golden finish at the Olympics but would not have been enough on Saturday to even secure a podium finish.

"I was planning on doing a relatively safer 1800 run in the second round, but had to step it up a notch after Ryoma landed an amazing run," Su said in the post-final news conference sitting next to Kimata, a friend and training partner of his.

"I enjoyed the challenge and I'm so happy that I landed tricks that I struggled with in training."

Kimata said the healthy competition with Su pushes both of them on to reach new heights.

"I am proud to have Su as a brother and training partner. He's an unbelievable snowboarder and we had so much fun hanging out together," said Kimata.

Another Japanese youngster, Kira Kimura, completed the podium with his switch backside quad cork 1980 trick in the third run earning 92.5 points and a bronze.

With the Shougang Big Air ramp in prime condition and the Beijing 2022 logo still displayed on the landmark cooling towers as a backdrop to the action, Saturday's final brought back memories of Su's historic win, which was China's first-ever snowboarding Olympic gold.

After only competing in one event — last season's X Games Aspen — since Beijing 2022, Su said it felt surreal to return to the scene of his Olympic triumph.

"Coming back to where my dream started feels like I've gone back in time. Everything is the same, except that I've grown taller and I'm more mature. My passion for snowboarding is as strong as ever even though I've missed a lot of competitions," said Su, who began his college studies at Tsinghua University in August.

"Now that I've realized my short-term goal, which was to win this World Cup, I will further explore my potential in creativity and variety to chase after my next big target at the 2026 Winter Olympics," said Su.

"Snowboarding has no limits, and I feel my potential is limitless too."

In the women's final, reigning Olympic and world champion Anna Gasser also enjoyed a repeat victory on the Shougang slope, which the Austrian star described as her lucky place on the circuit.

After runner-up Tess Coady of Australia and Britain's bronze-medal winner Mia Brookes each landed high-scoring first runs, Gasser held her nerve after crashing in her first attempt to stomp two 1080-plus runs to win with a total of 174 points.

"I always come to China with a very good feeling," said the 32-year-old Olympic champ. "I remember the last success and it gives me energy for the next competition. That's why I love to come back."

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