In China, a Snowboarding Baby Wins Hearts And Makes Headlines.
Wang Yuji can’t even walk yet at 11 months old, but she’s already snowboarding and conquering the slopes (and the internet) by storm.
Yuji is the tiniest of all the riders at a resort near Beijing, which will host the 2022 Winter Olympics in just a few months. Her parents strap her into tiny boots and layer her with protective clothing.
She swoops down the piste on her small board, giggling and swinging her arms, once her parents let go.
Her puzzled parents claim that, unlike many clumsy rookies who struggle to keep upright, snowboarding came easy to their newborn.
Yuji’s mother, Fan Xueyin, tells AFP, “We put her in the shoes and noticed she could make herself to stand… then we brought her to a gentle slope and watched her slide down, crouching on the board by herself.”
Yuji’s first snowboarding experience was only two weeks earlier during a family vacation.
Since then, she’s spent every morning with winter sports fans at the Thaiwoo Ski Resort in Chongli, Zhangjiakou, one of the Winter Olympics’ host towns.
“Of course, we wouldn’t have forced her to play the sport if she had been terrified or protested,” Fan continues.
“She would pat her legs and start grinning once she was on the board, so we could tell she’s not afraid at all and is having fun,” says the author.
Yuji is still too tiny to control her direction or speed, so if she veers towards an impediment, a nearby parent is always ready to grab her.
“You’re doing a fantastic job!” parents exclaim as they jog beside their toddler.
The government has been eager to promote winter sports in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics, with massive snow resort building attracting millions of new fans.
Wang Shu, Yuji’s father, is a newcomer to the sport, having only recently begun to study.
He says he’s been encouraged to train as a professional snowboarding coach after watching his daughter’s talent, so he can teach her when she’s older.
Yuji crawls around in the snow when she’s not on the board and is learning to take her first tentative steps on her own.
Beibei (“baby”), the little prodigy, has amassed a slew of internet fans, with recordings of her racking up tens of millions of views on Chinese social media.
People who stop to snap photos with her at the resort immediately recognize her.
“A lot of people are leaving messages saying things like ‘She’s so.'” The Washington Newsday Brief News is a daily newspaper published in Washington, D.C.