Carving Beijing's Snowboarding Niche at Nanshan Village!
    2010-12-21 15:53:56     CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Duan Xuelian
Maybe snowboarding 'took off' a bit later in China than in the West. But the guys at Mellow Parks snowboarding event company have made up for lost time with an icy momentum at Beijing's snow parks.

Eventual winner Liu Li throwing a combo on the flat-down ledge. This year at NIKE 6.0 Nanshan Ski Park, Mellow Parks snowboarding event company will host a series of both local and international snowboarding competitions. The events will run until the end of February. [Photo provided to CRIENGLISH.com by Xiao Ba]

Twenty-four-year old expat Bobby Carleo is from Boston, USA and has been in Beijing for three winters now. His first time participating in Mellow Parks  snowboarding events was two years ago with the Nanshan Open Qualifiers.[Photo courtesy of Bobby Carleo]

Xiao Hu, 900, all eyes on him. Xiao Hu-meaning "little tiger" is only 20 years old and has taken spectators by surprise. Mellow Parks co-founder Marco Huang hints that Xiao Hu is one to watch for this season. [Photo provided to CRIENGLISH.com by Xiao Ba]

Maybe snowboarding 'took off' a bit later in China than in the West. But the guys at Mellow Parks snowboarding event company have made up for lost time with an icy momentum at Beijing's snow parks.

Mellow Parks operates at Nanshan Ski Village and has been hosting local and international snowboarding competitions for almost a decade. They also filmed one of China's first snowboarding movies,which premiered this fall in Beijing and Shanghai.

They invite Beijingers to brave the cold all winter long with fun at the slopes until the final showdown February 26.

Andrea Hunt has more:

Mellow Parks was started by Austria's Steve Zdarsky and China's Marco Huang and is now widely recognized both by snowboarders in China and by enthusiasts abroad. Nine years later, their passion for riding and promoting snowboarding events has carved a chilly niche into China's slopes.

Co-founder Huang says, however, that Mellow Parks does not seek to promote snow boarding as a sport.

"In China, it's different. There's a national team, who during the season they train everyday like athletes. They run; they are jogging. We are different. We're just snowboarding for fun. If you want to snowboard, then you do it. For us, it's just having fun with your friends, can hang out at the park, doing what you love to do."

The local "NIKE 6.0 Five Gates Jam Series" is based on an ancient Chinese tale. Thousands of years ago during the Three Kingdoms Period, a general had to pass through five gates in order to return to his family.

Olli Fenwick-Ross from New Zealand is Mellow Parks' PR representative. He clarifies that in 2010, five local snowboarding competitions now represent the ancient gates.

"The fun thing about this for us is it's not just one "make-or break" event, but we get to hold it throughout the season. And for the riders it's really fun because of all the different obstacles. The consistency of having something every couple of weeks is good because it gives everybody an excuse to come up to the ski resort and hang out, have some good times."

The "gates" all have catchy names such as "The Ledge," "The Wall" and the "Final Gate Showdown." All levels of riders within the Chinese public and expat community can have a try.

For those who are really serious about snowboarding, there is a two day international event. The "Ninth Redbull Nanshan Open" offers a first prize of 30,000 USD.

Marco Huang says it's not only the money luring these snow-passionate boarders this winter. As for the organizers, Fenwick-Ross adds that these snowboarders, known by their peers as 'shredders,' are also in it for the experience.

"We're not so much into making money; it's about doing what we love and trying to push that to other people as well. It's about enjoying each winter as much as possible while making enough money to eat as well."

Organizer Huang's personal favorite is the "Final Gate Showdown" at the end of February.

"Normally, we don't have night snowboarding in Nanshan. But that day, we re-set up all obstacles and we have free beer, free Redbull and a lot of people come. It's just like a big party, it's so much fun. It's not an event; it's more like a party."

The second "Gate Jam" event, "The Cannon," drew almost 3000 visitors to the park. But Fenwick-Ross says it's not merely about numbers that make a local competition like this special in China. The Chinese slopes bring a different kind of snowboarder than in the West.

"You don't actually see many children up here as opposed to in the West where it's like a family trip. I started skiing when I was six or seven; here, you don't really see that. It's more people who have finished their schooling, gotten a job, maybe have a bit of money and are now coming to snowboard for the first time."

Wipe outs and face plants in the snow may not be so lady-like, but some Chinese women don't mind.

Three years ago, they held their first female only-competition called, "Fei nv wu rao." It roughly translates to, "If you're not a lady, don't bother." Only ten women showed up. But this year's event drew around forty.

Expat Bobby Carleo from Boston started snowboarding eleven years ago. He's taking part again this year because he's found something unique in Beijing's snowboarding community.

"I would say there is a big difference between the snowboarding community here and any of the snowboarding communities I've been a part of back home. Mostly, I think because they are less serious snowboarders. Everyone's just encouraging each other and trying to help each other out, which of course isn't always the situation back in America. There are a lot of different groups of friends and everyone wants to be the best. So, it's more cohesive here and friendlier, which is really nice."

So perhaps it's time to bundle up and brave a few bumps. Beijing's cool community of Chinese and expat snowboarders will be hanging out at Nanshan Park the next few months. Beijing's snow parks just might make the dry and frigid winters here a bit more tolerable.

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