Amid COVID shutdowns, Chinese women flock to skateboarding

By Martin Quin Pollard

4 minute read

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BEIJING, July 19 (Reuters) – Feeling cooped up by the Chinese capital’s partial COVID-19 lockdown earlier this year, which shut gyms, parks and other venues, Beijing resident Mina Zhao came across surfskating on social media and decided to give it a try.

Zhao, 40, who loves to ski, was an instant devotee, getting her husband and son involved in surfskating and even introducing it to dozens of fellow mothers who have gone on to buy their own boards.Advertisement · Scroll to continue

“I think for my work, even for my life, skateboarding is having a positive effect,” Zhao said, adding that it has helped her lose weight and reduce anxiety over her child’s education.

Surfskating, a novice-friendly version of skateboarding that uses a more flexible front-end wheel assembly, known as a truck, to enable deeply carved turns akin to surfing, has taken off in Chinese cities since the spring, especially among women.Advertisement · Scroll to continue

Zhao said surfskating gives her a sense of accomplishment, and the positive energy she gets from it emboldened her to spend time away from home, wear more colourful clothing and even dye her hair to a lighter shade for the first time.

“Through this sport, what we want to explore more is ourselves. Being ourselves is more important than the world’s stereotypical view of us,” she said.

She said it also has a calming effect. “The more anxious you are, the worse it is for your child. Sometimes I just skate around the basement, I feel like a man who has a couple of cigarettes outside when something happens,” Zhao said.

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