Bud Keene, the new coach of China's snowboard Big Air and slopstyle technique national team, confirmed here Thursday that his squad will vie for a breakthrough of podium finish in Big Air at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games.
"I signed a contract with China to win a medal in 2022. So, that's the goal," the American told a pre-match press conference in the National Stadium, aka the "Bird's Nest", ahead of the Air+Style World Cup Beijing, a FIS-A Big Air event slated on Nov. 23-24.
Keene, former coach of some legendary riders like Shaun White and Gus Kenworthy as well as Olympic medal-winning squads of Team USA and Team New Zealand, took charge of the Chinese nationals last October and will see the two-year-old team through to March 2022.
He admitted there's a lot of work to do with the young Chinese squad but felt confident since he saw talent in the youngsters and had many successful cases in the past.
"We have a mountain to climb. There's no question about that. But we're gonna climb it one step once a time," he said.
"Since starting with the China national team, I've been so impressed with the level of ability, quite honestly, that here, there's a lot of talent. They just need to be uncovered, nurtured and guided. I get a great bunch of kids. We'll be climbing that mountain," he added.
Keene enumerated that the Chinese riders' aerobat ablitiy is "exceptional because a lot of them come from gymnastics and martial arts background, and "their air awareness is superior, their competence level is high".
"Now we just have to match their competence level in the air with their competence level on the snowboard," he said.
Among piles of his glowing experience, Keene guided White for ten years when the most successful snowboard rider in history won the Olympic halfpipe title twice in a row, before he helped NZ end their 26-year medal drought of Winter Games in PyeongChang.
"I did the situations with Shaun (White) as the expectation was we won every single week. That's a hike of lot pressure right there," he said. "We don't have to win every single week (with the Chinese team). We just have to come through in three and a half years."
"So we get some time. We get a strong group of young kids. And I've seen what can happen to spend three years with kids that want it. And I believe they can get it. So that's our goal.
"You know, unless you start with a goal like that, you'll never get there. So we set that as a goal and we're gonna get to work," he added.
Keene's ambition of leading China to their very first Big Air medal in Beijing 2022 got a strong support from the Chinese sports authority.
"We did every effort to have Bud Keene on our side because we really want to achieve something in Big Air," said Zhou Jin, team manager of China's Big Air and slopstyle technique squad.
"The whole supporting team has already stood by, including the physicians, the medicine group and technique staff. The superiors have also gotten our back," she added.
Keene's team are now training around the world, with their bases includes Austria's Stubai Glacier, a world class training zone, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, somewhere in South America, and Secret Garden in Chongli where some skiing competitions of Beijing 2022 will be held.
After the weekend's Air+Style Beijing World Cup, Keene and his team will travel to Austria for three weeks' training before they come back to Chongli for the