China's Liu Jiayu celebrates after ladies' halfpipe final of snowboard at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games at Phoenix Snow Park in PyeongChang, South Korea, on Feb. 13, 2018. Liu Jiayu won the silver medal with 89.75 points. (Xinhua/Fei Maohua)
PYEONGCHANG, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) -- Liu Jiayu snatched the silver medal of the women's snowboard halfpipe, the first medal for China at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games at Phoenix Snow Park here on Tuesday.
Liu, the 2017 Sapporo Asian Winter Games champion, earned 89.75 points in her second run of three to take the silver.
The 25-year old Liu, who competed in three Olympics, became the first Chinese snowboard Olympic medalist.
Liu said: "It's time to celebrate. This sport in China is going to grow. For Chinese people having someone on the podium for the Olympics is an honor. It will be a huge push for Chinese snowboard."
"I did not think much about the finals, just do my best to enjoy it," added Liu, who earned 87.75 points to sit second in Monday's qualifiers.
Liu's career, which included a world championship title at 16, has seen ups and downs since she started her professional training in 2003, the year when Chinese took up the sport.
"It's a cool sport. When you ride on the board, you feel the world belongs to you," said Liu, who believes it is her love of this sport that keeps her through these years.
Liu won her first national championship in 2005 at 13, and claimed her first World Cup title in 2008 in Canada.
As the reigning World Cup and world champion, Liu, who recovered from an arm injury one month before coming to Vancouver, had to settle for fourth place at the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Liu was injured again in training and had received two surgeries before the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, where she finished ninth.
"Actually, that is a period of time when I gained a lot. I can see clearly what my goal is, just enjoying that feeling. The result is important, but not that important anymore," Liu said.
Cai Xuetong of China, who only got 20.50 and 41.25 points in the first two runs, finished fifth with 76.50 in her last run.
The 2017 world champion Cai said: "The first and second run, I both fell to the ground. I think I have nothing to lose in the last run and bravely stepped on board. So I am happy to win a fifth place at the Olympics."
American Chloe Kim won the gold with 98.25 points in her final run. Her compatriot Arielle Gold took bronze in 85.75.
Chinese snowboarders made their Winter Olympics debut in 2006 in Turino, Italy, where Pan Wei and Sun Zhifeng finished 28th and 31st respectively in women's competitions.
Liu became the second Asian woman to win a snowboard medal at Olympics, after Japanese Tomoka Takeuchi won silver in the women's parallel giant slalom at Sochi 2014.
Snowboard has thus become the sixth sport where China has won a medal at the Winter Games, after short track speed skating, freestyle skiing, speed skating, figure skating and curling.