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Kazak snowboarder thrills hometown crowd

Updated: 2016-02-02
By Lin Hanqing (chinadaily.com.cn)

Darmin Bieyishan, one of the most popular snowboarders at the 13th National Winter Games, was thrilled to compete in the half-pipe before a hometown crowd in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. The audience for the first Games hosted outside Northeast China returned the feeling.

Despite an injury and a lower-than-expected finish, the only professional snowboarder from China’s Kazak ethnic group said he hopes to be a role model for young people who want to learn to soar like him.

Darmin, 23, was the national snowboard half-pipe champion in both the 2013-2014 and 2015-2016 seasons and had hoped to medal in the men’s final in the games that concluded in Xinjiang on Sunday.

Unfortunately, he fell while executing a Cab 1080 in the final, striking the edge of the half-pipe and injuring himself. “Actually, I only learned the move on Jan 8 and I just wanted to push myself a little bit more,” Darmin said. “I was a little bit nervous at the final because I really wanted to do well in front of the home audience.”

Darmin joined the Xinjiang team in 2008 when he was 15. He made it to the national team in 2012, but had to drop out due to injuries.
Before the Tianshan Tianchi international ski resort built a world-class half-pipe in 2012, Darmin had to train in Northeast China. Now Xinjiang athletes can train in the regional capital of Urumqi, where the competition took place.

He said his mother was “scared to death” after his fall in the final, which was broadcast live on TV, and demanded he quit. “It has happened before and she knows I cannot live without snowboarding. Every time I am on the snow it’s like I am having a conversation with it,” he said.

Despites his injury, Darmin insisted on participating in the team final for Urumqi city. During the second round, he successfully executed the Cab 1080 and won a silver medal.

Darmin’s good looks and cool snowboarding moves have drawn many fans, especially those from the Kazak ethnic group. Ayitaman, for one, urged the crowd to cheer for Darmin in the team final.

“He is a fighter who keeps pushing himself. He still put on a smile after he was injured in the men’s final even though he was clearly in pain,” the 18-year-old said. “Snowboarding is so cool when you watch it live. I’ve decided to learn snowboarding myself.”

Jumabek from Tacheng, Darmin’s hometown, who traveled to the games to see Darmin in the men’s final, praised his perseverance.

“There is a Kazak saying that ‘a tough spirit is a warrior’s best company’. I’ve seen it in Darmin. He even tried to do another move after the terrible fall,” Jumabek said.

Darmin said he wants to coach once he retires from competition. “I want to stay on the Xinjiang team and train more Xinjiang children, especially those from ethnic groups,” he said.

There are several youngsters in the pipeline, including Wang Ziyang, 13, the youngest athlete in the men’s half-pipe final. He fell in love with skiing and later snowboarding after his father took him to the Silk Road international ski resort for the first time when he was 4.

Just a little taller than the snowboard, Wang joined the Xinjiang half-pipe team in 2012. His home in Urumqi county is near the resort, which served as another venue for this year’s National Winter Games.

“During the skiing season, he will go to the resort every day after school,” said Wang Jiyuan, the teen’s father. “We had doubts about letting him join the professional team, but it is his dream after all.”

Compared to pros like world champion Zhang Yiwei, Wang’s snowboarding moves are very basic and he is still shy in front of cameras. But fans say he has a promising future and is expected to compete for China at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

Zhang, who invented the Triple Cork half-pipe move, watched Wang compete in the men’s final.

“I had just begun to learn how to snowboard at his age and Wang is now competing in the national games,” Zhang said.

Darmin also has high hopes for Wang, crediting his youthful start and the continual improvement of Chinese training facilities. “Once he is able to jump out of the half-pipe he will fly like a bird,” Darmin said. “Wang is the future of China’s snowboarding.”

Wang, fascinated by the sport and its potential for athletic creativity, said he intends to invent his own moves as his training progresses.

“There is nothing more magical than snowboarding,” he said.

Reporter: Cui Jia

Video: Lin Hanqing

Producer: Flora Yue

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