Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Snowboarding baby stealing hearts and headlines in China

Snowboarding baby stealing hearts and headlines in China

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
At just eleven months old, Wang Yuji can’t even walk but she is already snowboarding and taking the slopes – and the internet – by storm. AFP

Snowboarding baby stealing hearts and headlines in China

At just 11 months old, Wang Yuji can’t even walk, but she is already snowboarding and taking the slopes – and the internet – by stsorm.

The smallest of all the riders at a resort near Beijing, which is set to host the 2022 Winter Olympics in just a few months, Yuji is clipped into tiny boots by her parents and padded out with layers of protective clothing.

Once her parents let go, she swoops smoothly down the piste on her small board, giggling and flapping her arms.

Unlike many clumsy beginners who struggle to stay upright, her bemused parents say snowboarding somehow came naturally to their baby.

“We put her in the shoes and realised she could bring herself to stand . . . then we brought her to a gentle slope and watched her slide down, squatting on the board by herself,” Yuji’s mother Fan Xueyin said.

Yuji’s first attempt at snowboarding was only two weeks ago during a family holiday.

Each morning since then she has joined winter sports fans at the Thaiwoo Ski Resort in Chongli, Zhangjiakou – one of the hosting cities for the Winter Olympics.

“If she had been afraid or resisted, of course we wouldn’t have made her do the sport,” Fan adds.

But once on the board, “she would pat her legs and start giggling, so we could tell that she’s not afraid at all and is enjoying herself”.

As Yuji is still too small to control her direction or speed, a nearby parent is always ready to snatch her if she veers towards an obstacle.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Wang Shu helps his 11-month-old daughter Wang Yuji take off her snowboard at a ski resort in Zhangjiakou in northern China’s Hebei province on Wednesday. AFP

“You’re doing great!” they call at her, jogging alongside their child.

Boarding ‘Beibei’

Ahead of the Beijing Games, the government has been keen to promote winter sports, with huge construction of snow resorts leading to millions of fresh devotees.

Yuji’s father Wang Shu is a new fan of the sport, having recently started to learn.

And after seeing his daughter’s talent, he says he has been inspired to train as a professional snowboarding coach, so that he can teach her when she’s older.

When not on the board, Yuji crawls about in the snow and is learning to take her first tentative steps independently.

The little prodigy, nicknamed Beibei (“baby”), has earned reams of internet fans and videos of her have garnered tens of millions of views on Chinese social media.

At the resort, she is immediately recognised by people who stop to take photos with her.

“A lot of people are leaving messages like ‘She’s so talented and maybe can compete in the Winter Olympics in the future’,” Fan says, admitting it made her “really think about it”.

“It would be great for her to bring glory to our country – but she is still too young,” she chuckles.

“We’ll respect her own choices in the future.”


  • NY sisters inspired by Khmer heritage

    Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Cambodian-American sisters Edo and Eyen Chorm have always felt a deep affinity for their Cambodian heritage and roots. When the pair launched their own EdoEyen namesake jewellery brand in June, 2020, they leaned heavily into designs inspired by ancient Khmer

  • Schools drawn into Manet degree row

    Prime Minister Hun Sen stepped into the Hun Manet-Sam Rainsy war of words over the validity of Manet’s degree from the US Military Academy at West Point, set off by Rainsy’s claims that Manet had received a “second-class degree” or “honorary degree”. Hun

  • Cambodia records first Omicron community case

    The Ministry of Health on January 9 reported 30 new Covid-19 cases, 29 of which were imported and all were confirmed to be the Omicron variant. The ministry also reported 11 recoveries and no new deaths. Earlier on January 9, the ministry also announced that it had detected the Kingdom's

  • The effects of the USD interest rate hike on Cambodian economy

    Experts weigh in on the effect of a potential interest rate expansion by the US Federal Reserve on a highly dollarised Cambodia Anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in March is putting developing economies on edge, a recent blog post by

  • PM eyes Myanmar peace troika

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has suggested that ASEAN member states establish a tripartite committee or diplomatic troika consisting of representatives from Cambodia, Brunei and Indonesia that would be tasked with mediating a ceasefire in Myanmar. The premier also requested that Nippon Foundation chairman Yohei Sasakawa

  • Kampot tourism quay ‘90% done’

    Construction on Kampot International Tourism Port – a 4ha quay in Teuk Chhou district about 6km west of Kampot town – has fallen off track, reaching 90 per cent completion, according to a senior Ministry of Tourism official last week. The project is now planned to be finished