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Pioneering Chinese Snowboarder in Krasnoyarsk

22 February 2019

If you think China is not really at the forefront when it comes to snow sports, you’re not the only one. Ask Tianle ‘Alan’ Li, who is part of the Chinese contingent heading to Krasnoyarsk for the Winter Universiade 2019.


His college classmates find it difficult to understand why he spends so much of his time practicing the not-so-popular sport of Snowboard.


“They think I’m unusual,” he says with a smile. “My college is one of the top ten universities in China, and my major is information management. It’s quite easy for us to find a job in the IT industry after graduation. But snowboard takes up a lot of my time. They think such effort is not worth it.” 


Alan, along with 10-odd other Chinese snowboarders will be in action in Krasnoyarsk and he has very clear goals set for himself. He had also participated in Almaty 2017 and he feels he learned many lessons there.


“Last time, in Almaty I participated in Parallel Giant Slalom and Parallel Slalom and I was amazed,” he remembers. “I had never seen such powerful opponents. I could really feel the gap between us and this time, I want to do much better, get a good place and enter the finals.”


The very fact that he has reached this level is almost astonishing when you consider the fact that he took up the sport only at the age of 18. At an age when many others around the world are already pros, Alan tried the sport for the first time.


“The first time I tried snowboard was when I saw photos of our college’s Ski & Snowboard Association and thought they looked really cool! It is such an amazing sport. The sense of speed is exciting. The best snowboarders can reach speeds up to 70km per hour. It really is very cool and exciting, I think.” 


“Today the sport has brought me this far,” he continues, “that I can compete with the best college students in the world and learn from them. That’s what I care about most.”


When asked which teams does he consider the strongest, pat comes the reply “Russia”. “They are the hosts,” he says. “And Russia is a strong team in Snowboard.”


Sure enough, in the Men’s Parallel Giant Slalom in Almaty, the Russians pulled off a one-two with Bogdan Bogdanov and Vladislav Shkurikhin taking gold and silver. And they can be expected to put in a stronger performance on home ground. The competition will be stiff though – as there are 30 countries participating in this sport.


Since its debut in the 17th Winter Universiade in 1995 held in Jaca, Spain, Snowboard has become a compulsory discipline in the programme and is only growing in popularity. Perhaps Alan and his teammates will lead the way for even more Chinese athletes to take up the sport.


Snowboard starts with official training sessions on the 1st of March and the full competition schedule can be found here. The Sopka Sport Complex that will host the Snowboard competition also includes functional areas for acrobatics training and a medical rehabilitation center. Have a look at this unique venue below and fasten your seatbelts for the start of competition!