Winter sports still heated in North China in April

(Xinhua) 16:52, April 02, 2021

HARBIN, April 2 (Xinhua) -- The enthusiasm of winter sports in North China has not faded away even the weather is becoming warmer in spring, as a new wave of warm-up events for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games set off in Heilongjiang Province.

A 10-day ice sports test program for the Beijing 2022 started on Thursday, and several national events have been held or will take place here.

From March 17th to April 8th, six national winter sports events are going on in Heilongjiang as the 2020-21 season was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Snow stops in most provinces in China in April and Yabuli Ski Resort in Heilongjiang Province is the most suitable place to hold snow events.

"To ensure that the snow quality on the track meets the competition conditions, the staff goes out at 4 a.m. every day and arranges the track at 5 a.m. to ensure that the competition is finished in the morning," said Cui Hongbin, staff of the Competition Department of the China Alpine Skiing Championships.

Athletes cherish the rare opportunity to exercise on Yabuli's courses, serving as the training camp for most Olympic events.

"I was the first to start and waited for the last athlete finishing before I knew the results. Waiting was painful, but the result was great," Wang Jisen said.

Wang won his first individual national title at the China Alpine Skiing Championships for Heilongjiang on Monday.

Heilongjiang is the first province in China to carry out ice and snow sports. Besides the natural conditions for hosting international competitions, it also has a long history of ice and snow sports development.

In the 1950s, Heilongjiang Province required ordinary schools to build ice rinks and develop ice sports. The government also distributed skis to some schools in the mountainous areas. Winter sports became an important part of local winter physical education, and some enterprises also carried out skating sports.

"In the 1980s, dozens of primary schools in Qiqihar established ice hockey teams," said Cui Yiwen, who has been teaching ice hockey for more than 30 years in Ermalu Primary School in Qiqihar.

In the 1950s, ice sports teams were set up in many places in Heilongjiang Province. In the following decades, ice hockey teams in Harbin and Qiqihar almost monopolized the national competition champions.

A group of winter athletes from Heilongjiang province, such as Luo Zhihuan, Yang Yang, Wang Meng and Zhang Hong, competed for gold and silver for China on the world stage.

Heilongjiang athletes won nine out of the 13 Winter Olympic golds for China, and over 100 ski resorts spread in the China's coldest province.

Even in spring, people still enjoy activities on ice and snow here. A cosplay skiing show was held at Yabuli Ski Resort on March 28, with more than 100 skiers wearing colorful outfits to enjoy the snow in spring.

"The number of tourists in a single day can reach nearly 10,000 at the peak," said Xue Dongyang, Yabuli Sunshine Resort's general manager. With the increase in the number of tourists in recent years, skiing generated many employment opportunities.

When winter comes, 34-year-old Xu Yanbin is very busy as a ski instructor. "I was a farmer and didn't have much work outside farming in the past. Skiing is a skill I learned since I was a kid, and I never expected it to become my profession," Xu said.

With the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games to open in less than one year, there has been an upsurge of winter sports all over China.

According to Chen Zhe, director of the Heilongjiang Provincial Sports Bureau, December 20 has been set as the "Heilongjiang Province National Ice and Snow Activity Day" since 2016, encouraging winter sports facilities to be open to fans for free, which has led and influenced more than 70 million people to participate in winter sports.

(Web editor: Wen Ying, Bianji)


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