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Snowboarder Su Yiming Makes History With Controversial Silver Medal

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The 17-year-old Su Yiming won a silver medal with a score of 88.70 in the men’s slopestyle finals at Genting Snow Park in Zhangjiakou, Hebei province, on Monday. The teen’s finish saw him sandwiched between Canadian Olympic veterans Max Parrot and Mark McMorris, who finished with gold and bronze, respectively.

But the final standings were not without controversy: BBC commentator Ed Leigh noted a critical mistake in Parrot’s gold-medal-winning run that the judges missed.

In Parrot’s second run, scoring 90.96, he grabbed his body instead of his board during a frontside 1440 in the fourth section of the course.

“The judges have put execution at such a premium that something like that should have cost him two or three points. So the gold has gone wrong there,” said Leigh, according to the BBC. “I spoke to one of the judges and he said they are distraught, and they have been excellent up to this point. But this is a big one, a really big one.”

Su, however, was all smiles and excitement as he stood on the podium alongside his longtime idols.

“This means a lot to me. One of the special things in my life, for sure. The Olympic Games in my home country,” he said of the victory.

He added that “I saw family, friends, everyone supported me, and I shared the podium with my idol, Mark McMorris. He’s been my idol since I started snowboarding.”

McMorris, meanwhile, had nothing but kind words for his fellow champion.

“He’s grown into a strong, strong snowboarder, and I’m just proud of him to do so well today in his home country,” said McMorris, now a bronze medalist at three straight Winter Olympics, in a press conference after the contest.

“He’s a true snowboarder. He loves it as much as anyone, and seeing him as a young kid to now, it’s been pretty special,” he added.

Su, standing a few feet away, appeared over the moon as his peers heaped praise on his performance. And as if the victory wasn’t exciting enough, the day was special for another reason, too.

“It’s my mum’s birthday, and I think I’m going to call my mum first, you know. This silver is for her,” Su told Olympics.com.

From child actor to snowboarding prodigy to Olympic medalist, Su shows no sign of slowing down.

Securing his first sponsorship with Burton at the age of 7, according to the official Olympics website, Su became the first Chinese rider to land a backside triple cork 1620 mute in March 2020 and the first Chinese snowboarder to land a Cab 1800 in January of 2021.

Guinness World Records recognized him as the first snowboarder ever to land a backside 1980 Indy Crail during training in Stubai, Austria, in October 2021.

Two months later, he earned China its first medal at the International Ski Federation (FIS) Ski and Snowboard World Cup, where he was the first rider ever to land two 1,800-degree rotations in different directions at a FIS event. 

Su is one of the youngest athletes on China’s Winter Olympic team this year. At 17 years old, he is the same age as the youngest competitors ever to win a medal in an Olympic snowboard event — Americans Chloe Kim and Red Gerard.

The Olympics aren’t over yet for Su: He is set to compete in the snowboarding big air event, with qualification runs starting on February 14 — just four days before his 18th birthday.

This article was updated at 5:45 PM on February 9, 2022, to clarify that Genting Snow Park in Zhangjiakou is in Hebei province, not Henan as previously stated.

Cover photo via Instagram

Jesse Pottinger
    Jesse is a Vancouver-based journalist who spent four back-to-back summers living in Guangzhou and working with That’s magazines. He currently serves as a remotely-based junior editor with RADII. Jesse has spent considerable time traveling around China over the past half-decade and has something of a passion for dumplings. You can follow his adventures on Instagram at @messy_jesse.
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