Sports\Team China

Soaring among the stars

By Tang Yue | China Daily | Updated: 2016-11-22 07:34

Norwegian teen aiming to fulfill Olympic dream

Watching snowboarders launch themselves off a 16-story ramp to perform gravity-defying stunts, spectators at Saturday's World Snowboard Tour Big Air competition at the Bird's Nest might have naturally assumed the athletes are totally fearless.

But Norway's Marcus Kleveland, who won the event, begs to differ.

"I am afraid of spiders; I hate spiders," Kleveland said after taking top honors in the six-star event. "And I'm a little bit afraid of heights ... not when I am dropping down to jump, or when I am jumping. But when I am standing on a building and looking down, I start shaking a little bit.

 Soaring among the stars

Norway's Marcus Kleveland competes at the World Snowboard Tour Big Air competition at the Bird's Nest in Beijing on Saturday. Provided to China Daily

"When you go down to jump, you don't think about it. I know it's hard to believe, but it's not the same."

Kleveland's victory in Beijing was his second in as many weeks. The 17-year-old clinched his first World Cup title on Nov 12 in Milan.

"It definitely means a lot to me. I haven't made such big podiums like this and the one in Milan," he said.

"This is my second time in Beijing. I've grown from last year. It is more exciting. The course is a little bumpy, but we all made it through. It was awesome."

Urged on by pulsating rock music and a large noisy crowd, Kleveland kept his cool in edging Canadians Sebastien Toutant and D'arcy Sharpe, who finished second and third respectively.

"I am kind of new to the competition and I am kind of a quiet person at first. But you don't really have to be a loud guy to compete. You can do whatever you want and just try to have fun," said the Norwegian, adding he might add bungy jump and skydiving to his aerial repertoire when he visits New Zealand next summer.

"If you like the sport you just get out and try, learn your tricks. You get your friends together and you start pushing each other. That's what's important - you need to have someone to go snowboarding with, to share the fun."

As a boarder whose special talent is "setting the bar for tricks," Kleveland became the youngest competitor to execute a triple cork at the age of 13. Three years later he became the youngest member of the exclusive quad cork club, with Billy Morgan and Max Parrot.

"But I don't really think about it (my age) much. I just enjoy the sport.

"My family doesn't talk about it, either," he said.

Introduced to the Olympics at the 1998 Games in Nagano, Japan, snowboarding will feature five disciplines - including giant slalom, slope style and big air - at the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

"I really want to go to the Olympics. I am trying very hard this season to get a spot there. For sure, it will be dream come true if I can go there," said Kleveland. "I'm trying both slope and big air."


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