Days shy of his 18th birthday, Su Yiming of China followed up last week’s silver in slopestyle by earning another Olympic medal Tuesday, landing a pair of 1800s on his first two runs of the men’s big air final to strike gold.
The first Chinese snowboarder to win a Winter Games title stomped a frontside 1800 tailgrab on his first run for a score of 89.50, then went absolutely enormous on Run 2 with a backside triple cork 1800 for a 93.00. His combined winning total of 182.50 was nearly 11 points higher than the next-closest competitor.
“I had many dreams when I was a child. To be an Olympic champion was one of them and today I already realized my dream,” Su said. “There will be more and more challenges in the future. I will be more concentrated on my goals. All I need to do is to deliver all my efforts to achieve my goals.”
In a fitting quote for the Valentine’s Day season, he explained what it’s all about:
“The most important thing though is all about love. Snowboarding is not just about competition,” he said. “You see here every rider from a different country, we’re all doing the same thing – we love snowboarding. This is just out of our love.”
Su had a chance to throw a 1980 on his victory run but instead opted to bust out a floaty, stylish, slow-rotating 360. He stuck a backside 1980 last October during a training camp in Saas-Fee, Switzerland, becoming the first rider to land the trick since Yuki Kadono of Japan in 2017.
“I thought about trying a 1980 rotation, but I didn’t do it in the end,” Su said. “When I was sure I had won gold, I was really excited and all I wanted was to enjoy that moment.”
Similar to Tuesday’s final, he won December’s Big Air Steamboat World Cup event in Colorado with a pair of 1800s – a backside 1800 Indy and a frontside 1800 nose grab.
Su grew up in a ski area hub of northern China and was riding professionally by age 15. He was also a child actor, starring as Zi Shuan in 2014 Mandarin-language action film “The Taking of Tiger Mountain.”
His gold is China’s sixth of the Games, its most at any Winter Olympics, surpassing the five collected at the 2010 Vancouver Games.