Originally from Jilin province, Wang Lei is a Chinese professional snowboarder and an overall sports enthusiast. Trained in gymnastics since the age of 7, he joined the Army Team and National Team Training School at the age of 11. Switching from ski jumping to snowboarding in 1997, Wang became a professional boarder in 2004 and is sponsored by Burton, Anon, and Gravis. He has been profiled as China’s number one snowboarder (Taxi Magazine, November 2009), and was featured on CCTV 5 in the film Go Snowboarding, which aired in December of 2009. Last winter in Beijing, Wang competed with snowboarders from around the globe, placing 9th in the invitation only 2010 Red Bull Nanshan Open – China’s biggest slope style snowboard competition. Wang’s favorite international slopes include Mayrhofen and Flachauwinkl in Austria, and Cardrona in New Zealand. Based in Beijing, Wang continues to compete as well as teach his favorite winter sport. Before heading to Nanshan Ski Resort to practice some new tricks, Wang spoke with Canadian International School of Beijing students about how snowboarding became both his passion and his job.
Michael George Zhou, 10, US
Where did you learn to snowboard?
I learned snowboarding at Yabuli, Helijiang province (northern China).
Amit Avraham, 10, Israel
Is snowboarding dangerous?
I don’t think it’s too dangerous if you learn with an instructor. When you’re snowboarding [as a beginner], do it on flat ground so you can’t gain speed; so if you fall down, you can’t get hurt. You also have a lot of equipment to protect you.
Namisa Sun, 9, Canada
Did you ever get hurt while snowboarding?
When I was a beginner and in a lot of contests – doing big jumps, big kickers over 20m and rails – I would fall down sometimes and get hurt. But this is my job, so I take care of myself.If you don’t warm up or really concentrate on doing a trick, you will fall down and get hurt. You need to concentrate and focus.
Min Jue Soh, 9, Malaysia
Have you ever fallen like in the cartoons?
Yes, many times. If you fall down in the soft snow in the backcountry, you keep rolling and rolling.
William Rhee, 9, South Korea
Do you need money to snowboard and where do you go?
You can rent everything from the ski resort. There are 13 ski resorts around Beijing. In Jindushan Ski Resort in Changping District, we have a Burton Learn-To-Ride (LTR) center where they have snowboarding equipment and instructors for kids. I also go snowboardinga lot at Nanshan Ski Resort, because they have big jumps.
Calvin Zhang, 10, China
Do you like your job?
I love my job.
Hyeon-Se Jo, 11, South Korea
How many medals do you have?
I competed at Nanshan Open a few times and I have maybe five medals for snowboarding. I have other ones for skiing. Medals are not really important for me; I just enjoy this sport.
Tianke Li, 9, Canada
Do you ever want to be in the Olympics?
Snowboarding in China started around 2004 and we didn’t have a team before. So I don’t have a chance to go to the Olympics, but I can teach and take care of other snowboarderslike Liu Jiayu [who competed in the 2010 Winter Olympics].
Jacobo Innocenzi, 10, Italy
Did you ever think snowboarding is too hard for you?
Some tricks are very difficult, like jumping 30m and doing a 1080, which is spinning three times around. I can do a 720, front flips and back flips.
Dana Jun, 11, South Korea
How many seconds can you stay in the air?
About one and a half seconds to two seconds. But when I was 15 years old and ski jumping, I could long jump 80m for 3.5 seconds.
Gloria Kim, 11, South Korea
Is there another profession you would like to do?
I like to do many sports, like basketball and football. In the summer, I like swimming, kitesurfing, windsurfing and horse riding.
Sophia Konovalova, 10, Russia
If you go into a restaurant, do a lot of fans crowd you?