ZHANGJIAKOU, China (Reuters) – Canadian Mark McMorris may not have won gold in Monday’s slopestyle final but his decision to ride a snowboard adorned with a picture of a giant panda, a beloved national symbol in China, sparked an immediate shopping spree.
When asked about his board at a media conference on Monday, bronze medal winner McMorris said he created it for the Beijing Olympics without realising the Games mascot would be a happy-looking panda in a full-body ice shell that resembles an astronaut suit.
Souvenir shops have already sold out https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/china-boost-supply-winter-games-panda-mascot-souvenirs-2022-02-06 of the massively popular Olympic panda mascot, with customers waiting for hours in long queues only to go home empty-handed.
McMorris said pandas had always been his “spirit animal”.
“I really wanted it to have a feel-good graphic and put a panda on it,” said the Canadian boarder, who collaborated on the snowboard with Vermont-based snowboard manufacturing company, Burton.
After images of McMorris holding up his board went viral, China’s online shopping agents, known as ‘daigou’, who live overseas and help domestic customers buy overseas goods, quickly got to work.
They posted hundreds of images of the Burton board on RED, a Chinese social media and e-commerce app that resembles Instagram.
“I’m sure it will certainly become the most popular board,” one agent said, adding that the board was not yet available but offering to pre-order them for Chinese clients.
China’s Su Yiming, a former child actor, quickly cemented his celebrity status https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/snowboarding-chinese-fans-express-frustration-over-sus-first-round-2022-02-07 by winning silver in the slopestyle final.
Shoppers were also keen to buy the same goggles worn by Su and U.S. born-Chinese skier Eileen Gu, who has become a darling among young netizens and luxury brands.
Both names have been trending heavily on China’s Twitter-like social media platform Weibo since their Olympic debut.
On Tuesday, Gu won https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/freestyle-skiing-chinas-gu-wins-gold-medal-womens-big-air-2022-02-08 gold in women’s freeski Big Air final.
Skiing and snowboarding are both growing sports in China, particularly among the middle class in China’s first-tier southern cities.
China recently said it had already surpassed its target of getting 300 million people to participate in winter sports by the Beijing Games.
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)