By Pan Junqiang
Riding the wave of the 2022 Olympic Winter Games, Beijing has made great efforts to promote the popularization of winter sports across the city and encourage citizens to pay attention to, participate in and share the benefits of the grand sports event, showing the world the unique charm of the world’s first “dual Olympic city”.
Seeing that students skate freely on the ice and enjoy themselves at a sports school in Shijingshan district, Beijing, Liu Xiaodan, vice president for business at the sports school, couldn’t help but recall how difficult things used to be.
Just a few years ago, Shijingshan district had no ice rink or ski slope, said Liu, adding that when the school first organized on-ice training for students, it had to borrow the outdoor facilities of other districts in Beijing.
In July 2015, Beijing, together with Zhangjiakou city, north China’s Hebei province, won the bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, which has greatly stimulated Beijing citizens’ enthusiasm for ice and snow sports.
Grasping the opportunities provided by the Beijing 2022, Shijingshan district has ramped up efforts to catch up. After increasing financial input and speeding up construction of facilities for winter sports, the district has finally built 10 skating rinks and six ski resorts.
Nowadays, students at the sports school of the district are able to receive training in ice sports skills without leaving their school.
“To satisfy people’s demands for participating in ice and snow sports, we must build and improve winter sports venues and facilities,” said Ge Jun, deputy director of the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Sports.
So far, Beijing has built 82 ice rinks, 97 ice surfaces and 32 ski resorts, compared with 42 ice rinks, 44 ice surfaces and 22 ski venues before it won the bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics, according to Ge.
The capital city of China has also put efforts into bringing winter sports facilities closer to residents. By setting up portable ice rinks and ski fields at open space of stadiums and residential communities, it enables residents to enjoy ice and snow sports near their homes throughout the year.
“When I was young, I was already a regular of the ice rink,” said Liu Guosheng, an elderly resident in Beijing, referring to the Kunming Lake ice rink at the Summer Palace, the biggest natural ice rink in downtown Beijing. He now takes his grandson to the ice rink and teaches him to skate. They are also able to experience a wide range of snow sports activities at a nearby ski field, including walking in a snow maze and going down a slide in the snow.
Beijing’s municipal parks provide citizens with both skate rinks and ski venues, enriching their fitness activities and cultural life in winter, said Zhang Yahong, deputy director of the Beijing Municipal Administration Center of Parks.
At the eighth Ice and Snow Gala in Beijing Municipal Parks kicked off at the end of 2021, Beijing’s municipal parks held colorful activities centering on ice sports, snow sports and Winter Olympics-themed exhibition, opened 11 ice and snow fields to the public, and enabled local citizens to experience over 40 kinds of winter sports activities, according to Zhang.
Since 2014, Beijing’s municipal parks have held the Ice and Snow Gala for several consecutive years under the theme of “introducing ice and snow sports into parks and involving more people in winter sports to welcome the Beijing 2022”, attracting nearly two million participants.
During this winter, the culture and tourism authorities of Beijing launched 22 high-quality ice and snow tourist routes to help citizens better enjoy ice and snow activities, which combine skating, skiing, mountaineering, Internet-famous places, and many other elements.
Li Xiaohuai, a resident in Chaoyang district, Beijing, and his friend followed one of the tourist routes and took a special bus trip, during which they not only had fun skiing at a ski resort, but participated in the Beijing Expo Park’s first ice and snow carnival, fully immersing themselves in the charm of winter sports.
Shijingshan district has popularized winter sports courses in elementary and high schools, and held winter games for students in these schools for years, which cover six major events including short track speed skating, curling and ice hockey.
In addition, Shijingshan district has also managed to make sure that all students of elementary and secondary schools in the district have taken part in winter sports, knowledge about Olympic Winter Games has been promoted in all of these schools, and all the P.E. and dance teachers in the district have completed training in skating skills.
Since 2017, Beijing has carried out a campaign to promote winter sports in schools. The campaign has by far covered all 16 districts of the city and involved 2.1 million elementary and secondary school students in ice and snow sports.
Beijing has five municipal-level youth ice hockey teams and one municipal youth ski team, as well as 125 district-level youth winter sports teams. The number of registered members of winter sports teams has grown to 7,565, from 79 in 2017.
Beijing also tailored measures to help different groups of people take part in winter sports, including those with disabilities.
Man Yunjie, a Beijing citizen who suffers from leg disabilities, was excited when he heard that he can experience winter sports at an activity room specially designed for disabled people in Shijingshan district.
With the help of the Beijing Disabled Persons’ Federation, he made good use of the facilities at the activity room and became a curling athlete through painstaking practice and training.
By holding a rich variety of activities to for people to experience winter sports on synthetic ice as well as real ice and in snow, providing lectures on winter sports, and organizing floor curling competitions, Beijing has constantly increased the participation rate of people with disabilities in winter sports.