Stars chase big bucks on Bird's Nest's new ice

Updated: 2012-12-07 23:25

By Sun Xiaochen (China Daily)

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Chinese fans of the high-flying sport of snowboarding will be in for a treat at the Bird's Nest on Saturday.

Sports brand Oakley and star rider Shaun White will present Air & Style for the third straight year in Beijing, and local fans will be able to watch 24 of the world's top riders perform dazzling stunts at the iconic Olympic venue, where a 50-meter, 42-degree ramp has been constructed to provide a powerful launch point.

As the only six-star event of the World Snowboard Tour in Asia, the Beijing leg boasts 1,000 WST ranking points and prize money of $100,000 while also presenting riders with the opportunity to compete at the Beijing Olympics main site.

"It's pretty cool to do snowboarding in the Bird's Nest because it was the Olympic venue," last year's winner, Ulrik Badertscher of Norway, said on Friday.

"It feels different because it's an amazing stadium and the crowds are pretty involved. It's an exciting atmosphere with tens of thousands of people watching."

White, snowboarding's leading figure and two-time Winter Olympics gold medalist in half pipe, is full of praise for the venue although he won't be competing this year.

"The stage in the Bird's Nest is amazing," said the 26-year-old Californian. "I'd like to watch here. I don't really spend much time watching, I usually compete. It's cool to watch the guys do the hardest tricks. It helps me to get ready for upcoming events. It really kicks off my season."

The 24 competitors will start in a head-to-head, two-run preliminary round to fight for berths for the 16-spot (12 winners and four lucky losers) second round in the afternoon.

The surviving eight from that section will advance to a three-run third round before the top four square-off in a three-run Super Final, which starts at 8:25 pm. The winner will collect $24,561 in prize money and a special trophy, dubbed the Ring of Glory.

Pop singer Sun Nan will perform, with his band, to entertain the crowd during the event.