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2022 Olympics preparation warms up winter sports, economy

(Xinhua)    09:23, February 07, 2019

BEIJING, Feb. 6 -- Although winter vacation has come, 11-year-old Wang Aoyun still goes to school every day, for skating.

As school athletes, Wang and 20-plus teammates practice speed skating on a cornfield-turned ice rink at Taipingzhuang central school in Beijing's Yanqing District.

In three years, the 2022 Winter Olympics will be held in Beijing and Zhangjiakou, Hebei Province.

While construction of stadiums and infrastructure projects has been accelerated, winter sports and the related economy at the venues have also been heating up.

With its ice rink built in 2016, Taipingzhuang school is the first that had an ice rink in Yanqing District, where competitions of alpine skiing, bobsled, skeleton, and luge will be held in 2022.

Teachers take shifts to water the ice rink every night in winter, said Ding Jianpei, principal of the school.

"Most of our students may not be engaged in winter sports in the future, but we think it's worth it if they feel the happiness in the sports," Ding said.

Winter sports used to be a luxury 20 years ago in Beijing. People had to travel hundreds of miles to find a ski slope. The first large ski resort in the Chinese capital, Shijinglong, was not open until the late 1990s, in Yanqing.

Local villager Guo Junhua, 35, was among the first batch of ski lovers. Last year, she quit her job as a ski coach in southwest China and opened a ski training school in Yanqing District. To date, she has trained 50 children.

The district government also encourages local people to learn winter sports.

"Influenced by the atmosphere of the Winter Olympics, more and more residents show up on ice rinks and ski fields," said Ma Zhiyong, sports bureau deputy chief of Yanqing District, adding that more ice rinks and ski training bases are mushrooming.

This winter, Shijinglong resort received 60,000 visitors, up 10 percent year on year.

Five km away from the 2022 alpine skiing competition venue, local resident Zhang Haichao has rented and decorated 10 households, with more being constructed.

Zhang, general manager of a homestay brand company, is confident about the prospective of homestay market near his hometown.

"My friends and I love skiing, but bringing heavy snowboards to hotels is very inconvenient," Zhang said. "Now that the Winter Olympics are coming, more visitors will come to ski, a golden opportunity for homestay business."

He is also consulting some ski gear companies, planning to offer ski gear renting service at his homestay houses.

The district has attracted over 120 homestay brands, with the reservation rate of some brands reaching 90 percent for the Lunar New Year, said Zheng Aijuan, deputy director of Yanqing's tourism commission.

Song Haitian, deputy director of Winter Olympics preparation office of Yanqing District, said the 2022 Winter Olympics would have a profound impact on Yanqing's development.

"We hope the global sports event not only stimulates the sustainable development of Yanqing, especially the winter economy, but also helps upgrade the quality of both people's health and civil society," Song said.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Du Mingming, Bianji)

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