Junior Ming Zhu prepares to snowboard at Boreal Mountain California. Zhu has been snowboarding since fourth grade. (Photo courtesy of Zhu)

Junior enjoys thrill of snowboard racing

Junior Ming Zhu, the sole snowboarder on Country Day’s team, now embraces the sport. However, it wasn’t his choice to start. 

“My mom thought (snowboarding) looked cool, so she had me do it,” Zhu said. 

Zhu has been snowboarding since fourth grade and shows no signs of stopping. 

According to Zhu, snowboarding was more difficult to learn than skiing. 

“Snowboarding has a higher skill floor than skiing does, but a much lower skill ceiling,” Zhu said. “I alternated between skiing and snowboarding for the first three years because I didn’t enjoy snowboarding that much. Once I hit the skill floor for snowboarding, I started to have more fun and understood why people snowboarded.” 

Until the middle of the fifth grade, Zhu preferred skiing.

“Skiing was definitely more fun before I started to get better at snowboarding,” Zhu said. “But I don’t like to throw things away unless I absolutely hate it. Snowboarding looks cooler than skiing, so I decided to stick with (snowboarding), and now I enjoy it much more.” 

Zhu’s passion for snowboarding extends past the school team.

“We had 14 days of winter break, and I was up in the mountains for about nine or 10 days,” Zhu said. “It was really enjoyable to spend more than half of my break snowboarding.”

Zhu also loves the thrill of snowboarding.

“I’m not a super athletic or fast person, and I like sports where I don’t have exert myself, like badminton and tennis,” Zhu said. “But with snowboarding, I can go really fast down a mountain without moving that much, so it’s a really nice combination.” 

Zhu idolizes freestyle snowboarders and hopes one day he can go down the mountain as they do. 

“I would love to be one of those snowboarders who just wear a beanie and goggles and don’t worry about their safety,” Zhu said. “Freestyle snowboarding seems really fun and looks awesome because you see people going down normal slopes and doing flips and jumps.” 

Zhu started racing just last year for the school team.

“I had never been on a team before Country Day, but I learned quickly that racing is very different than snowboarding recreationally,” Zhu said. “In a race, you have to conserve more momentum while still going as fast as you can with control. I’m by no means great at racing, but I’m trying to get better.”

Ski and snowboard coach Jason Kreps said Zhu continues to progress. 

“Ming analyzes the course really well, and the only thing he has to do is start snowboarding more and getting more comfortable in a race setting,” Kreps said. “He is always willing to try new things and works really hard, which is great.” 

Sophomore Hailey Fesai agreed with Kreps, adding that Zhu is a great teammate. 

“Ming is really hardworking and a great snowboarder,” Fesai said. “He’s always trying to get better and is really supportive of the team.” 

Kreps added it would benefit Zhu, the only snowboarder on the team, to have someone to work with. 

“Technically I can’t even go onto the mountain alone, and Mr. Kreps has to stick with the team even though he is a snowboarder,” Zhu said. “So I am warming up and practicing alone, and I’m new to racing, so it’s kind of hard.”

Zhu added he’s becoming more advanced on his snowboard. 

“I’ve just started learning basic jumps and grabs (using one or both hands to hold either edge of the snowboard) in hopes of getting better and more comfortable,” Zhu said. “I can’t do a lot yet, but I love landing a jump perfectly, and I am starting to improve.”

By Arjin Claire

Originally published in the Feb. 4 edition of the Octagon.