X Games

Faces of competitive snowboarding

7 of 24

Yiwei Zhang ~ Halfpipe

Photograph By Courtesy of Burton

Yiwei Zhang had never ridden a snowboard when Chinese Olympic officials pulled him out of a gymnastics class to ask if he'd be interested in helping them start a team, then plopped him in front of a TV to study videos of Shaun White. It was time well spent, it turns out.

Zhang finished second overall on the 2013 FIS World Cup circuit and made the Chinese Olympic team for Sochi, where he finished sixth. He qualified for finals at the 2014 Burton U.S. Open in first place, and won international respect with his massive backside airs, a trick bag full of double corks and nearlyunparalleled amplitude all the way down the pipe.