Profile: Xinjiang skier nurturing next generation of sporting excellence

(Xinhua) 08:23, January 28, 2022

URUMQI, Jan. 27 (Xinhua) -- For 49-year-old Muhiyati Daniyar, a ski coach with decades of experience, seeing his students slide from the top of the mountain smoothly is always an exhilarating sight to behold.

Born and raised in Altay City in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Muhiyati Daniyar got hooked into skiing when he was a kid. The city is known as one of the earliest places of human skiing, mostly for its long snow season that can last up to six months every year.

"Being a ski coach here brings a great sense of accomplishment," he said.

Muhiyati Daniyar's father made him a simple pair of skis composed of two wooden boards when he was eight. They marked his baby steps into the world of skiing, as he tried to ski down from a hill near his home. Despite embarrassing stumbles and falls and the hardship of repeatedly climbing up to the hilltop, he still enjoyed the experience.

He would spend several months skiing every year. His passion and love for the sport opened him a door of opportunity, as he was chosen by the local ski team which used to train near his home.

However, the training didn't last long as Muhiyati Daniyar's father wanted him to focus on study. "My love for skiing did not diminish at all," he said. "I didn't participate in competitions during that time, but I never gave up skiing."

The avid skier became a physical education teacher at the age of 19. He took his students to ski every weekend at the resort where he was briefly trained, a way to relive the happy memories and sow the seeds of winter sports among the next generation.

Entering the 21st century, winter sports and tourism started to prosper in Altay, rekindling Muhiyati Daniyar's enthusiasm for the sport. After participating in various local matches, he won a national-level championship in 2005.

Four years ago, Altay incorporated skiing into physical education courses for primary and secondary school students, the first city to do so in China. Skiing is now no longer limited by venues or seasons, and children can ski all around the year with proper gear.

Muhiyati Daniyar has been the coach of Altay City youth ski team for over a decade. He has high expectations for his trainees. "I've passed my golden age of skiing, but these children are like eagles. They could fly farther!"

Under his coaching, several skiers have been selected for the national team, making him pretty proud.

Around November last year, 16 of his students qualified for the first time to compete in a national-level ski match in Jilin Province. And call it a fortunate stroke of serendipity, the coach of the Jilin provincial ski team was once his student.

Muhiyati Daniyar believes that competing is not just about winning medals. Going out to participate in various events gives the students a chance to see a world so different from the pastures and mountains they grow up in, he noted.

"There is a big world out there, and I hope more children can get to a bigger stage through winter sports," Muhiyati Daniyar said. 

(Web editor: Xia Peiyao, Liang Jun)


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