Some women in China are finding out they do not have to be skilled like 15-year-old Olympic champion Nishiya Momiji of Japan to enjoy skateboarding.
There is a version of skateboarding called surfskating that is a little easier for older people to learn.
The city sport is giving women, like 40-year-old Mina Zhao, some time off from their COVID-19 worries.
Easing COVID tensions
Zhao said she felt “cooped up” by Beijing’s recent COVID-19 restrictions. The measures closed exercise centers like gyms and parks. But she discovered surfskating on social media and decided to give it a try.
She learned by going to a free lesson near Beijing’s famous Water Cube swimming stadium in May. At that time, the lessons had about 12 people. Now almost 100 come each week to learn from the teacher, a professional dancer named Duo Lan.
Zhao even brings her husband and son.
She said skateboarding “is having a positive effect” on her life. She said she has lost some weight and is not feeling as bad about how COVID restrictions may hurt her child’s education.
Zhao said she feels good about herself now and she feels better spending more time away from home. She even changed her hair color. It is now lighter than her natural color.
She said the sport helps her feel comfortable being herself.
Sometimes, when she is feeling worried, she even uses the skateboard inside her home.
Surfskating also got attention partly because of the “buzz” snow sports, like snowboarding, got at the Beijing Winter Olympics earlier this year. Many people say surfskating feels like snowboarding. But skaters can make slow, wide turns without having to worry about hills or snow.
‘You feel so free’
Chen Yanni, 29, is another woman who tried surfskating this year and feels more calm.
“You feel so free,” she said.
Yanni also found out about the sport on social media.
She said although she is getting close to 30, the sport makes her feel young. “I love this feeling,” she said. “It’s like being a teenager again.”
One Chinese search engine said the number of people looking for the term “land surfboard” rose by 50 times in June compared to the year before.
JD.com is an online seller based in Beijing. It said sales of surfskateboards went up by 80 percent in June compared to the same month in 2021.
Burning Ice is a skateboard store with five shops in Beijing. A store supervisor, who did not want his name to be used, said the shops have had a 300 percent sales increase this year compared to the year before.
Skateboards and surfskateboards cost between $60 and $600. They make up 50 percent of the rise in sales. And women are the buyers 70 percent of the time.
Some women said they took up skating when they found out they would not be able to travel because of COVD-19. Thirty-four-year-old Yoyo works in business but likes to dive and surf when she goes to the beach.
She said skating makes her feel “that I have returned to the beach.”
And she added, “It is hot in the summer but I have the wind in my hair and I feel free.”
I’m Dan Friedell.
Dan Friedell adapted this story for Learning English based on a report from Reuters.
Words in This Story
cooped up – v. (phrasal) to keep (a person or animal) inside a building or in a small space especially for a long period of time
stadium – n. a very large usually roofless building that has a large open area surrounded by many seats and that is used for sports or music events
lesson –n. an activity that you do in order to learn something
comfortable – adj. a feeling without worries and of physical ease
buzz – n. (informal) the things that are being said about something especially by the public or people in general
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