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Leap of faith for X-Game competitors
By Ni Yinbin

SNAP-BACK cap, skinny jeans and skateboard sneakers, these are the dress code if you play any X-game or you want to be skate boy style looking. You may not see a lot of skate boys in the street but there were just filled with them in the SMP Skatepark on November 3, where the Shanghai's first X-Game challenge was held.

More and more young Chinese kids are joining the X-Game, mostly skating, skateboard and BMX, just like their oversea peers. To encourage more people to play and to promote the popular sport among local residents, the Shanghai Sports Bureau included the game, the 2012 Red-Bull Cup Shanghai Action Time, as one of its first city games events.

On November 3 at the SMP Skatepark, the world's biggest at the New Jiangwan Town, in the northeast corner of Shanghai, skate boys and girls gathered for competitions and shows. Some of them are very little but could not wait to skate, accompanied by their parents.

The challenge was more like a festival for all the skaters, skateboarders and BMX riders, as most of them are still amateurs to have fun and make friends.

"The game is fun and I made a lot of friends here," said 17-year-old BMX rider Lee Chun Lam from Hong Kong. "The atmosphere here is better than Hong Kong as we have more competitors here and everybody's having fun."

Lee, who has been studying in Shanghai for more than a year, brought a lot of friends, including his mother, to the park on the BMX competition to cheer him on.

"I'm glad to see him ride and I support him in BMX 100 percent," said Lee's mother. "Although he's still not very experienced, he's getting better."

Although Lee only took up BMX two years ago, he won screams and applause from the spectators through some sharp moves.

"I think I'm OK today as long as I gave everything I have," Lee told Shanghai Daily after the competition.

Lee's opponents included Shanghai's Shen "Jason" Jian, one of the best BMX riders in China, who lit up the court with some sensational 360-degree jumps.

"I think I performed well today and I heard the crowd's cheer," Shen told Shanghai Daily.

Shen said it was good to see more middle-aged residents coming to the park to enjoy the event, with the promotion of city activities that they would change stereotypes about skateboarding and support their children in future.

"In tradition, people would think only the bad kids who couldn't study well play X-games, which is not true," said the 24-year-old, who started to ride BMX since seven years ago and has become a professional rider. "When we were little, parents always wanted us to study and study but we have our own dreams.

"BMX has given me everything. It has been part of my life," Shen said.

The Action Time was also a great opportunity to practice for the annual KIA X-Games Asian at the end of April in Shanghai, which is more serious with top professionals from around the world, Shen added.

"There is still a big gap between Chinese riders and the good riders overseas," Shen said. "After all the riders here are still too few."

Despite the most sensational moves, Shen did not win the champion of the BMX competition as expected and only got a runner-up prize.

"The sport is getting more and more popular in China. But the problem is some referees are just not professional," Shen complained. "I don't think the referees are qualified to sit there. I don't think they like as well although all the spectators love me."

After the BMX was the skateboard street competition which was a tougher game with more competitors from both domestic and overseas.

"It's my first time to participate in the event. The atmosphere is okay but the crowd is still not as big as I expected. I think it would be better if it was during summer or winter holiday," said Lu Hung-chen, a skateboarder from Taiwan.

"But the environment and skating atmosphere here is better than Taiwan as everyday you can see people coming and play."

"This's my third time here. It's pretty cool to get the community together. You rarely see a lot of these kids getting on the streets, so it's kind of cool to know all the new faces," said Johnny Tang from Canada, who has been skateboarding for 15 years.

"I'm old guy and whatever the result is I'm just here and have fun here and leave the performance level to the younger generation."

Tang believed the Chinese skaters are getting better and encouraged them to keep practicing.

"They're good. I mean they're definitely taking advantage of the skating spot they've got, but I think just try harder, don't get lazy, and keep skating and have fun," Tang said.

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