Xi Story: The president's lasting passion for winter sports

(Xinhua) 09:15, February 01, 2022

Staff members work on the track at the National Ski Jumping Center in Chongli district of Zhangjiakou City in north China's Hebei Province, on Jan. 28, 2022. (Xinhua/Jiang Kehong)

BEIJING, Jan. 31 (Xinhua) -- In just a few days, the curtain will be raised for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games, igniting the passion of hundreds of millions of ice-and-snow sports fans worldwide.

Among them is a particular enthusiast -- Chinese President Xi Jinping. With decades-long love for winter sports, Xi has championed the country's hosting of the upcoming Games.

Eight years ago, while attending the opening ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympic Games, Xi talked with the Chinese sports delegation. He asked questions like "How much does the wind speed and snow quality affect your landing?" The athletes were deeply impressed by Xi's subject knowledge, commenting, "You are so professional!"

Xi has a particular passion for ice hockey, speed skating and figure skating. Growing up in the northern part of China, he developed an enthusiasm for skating at a young age.

During his visit to Beijing's Wukesong sports center in February 2017, Xi shared with the spirited young ice hockey athletes his experience of first stepping onto the ice in a pair of skates. "Back then, I was a primary school pupil, the same age as you, and it was on the frozen lake of Shichahai in central Beijing. I simply started skating, despite the fact that my skating boots were the wrong size."

At the sports center, Xi took the hands of a then 9-year-old player, leaned down and playfully shouldered him, adopting the "confrontation" posture often seen in ice-hockey games. "You need to grow stronger, young chap," Xi told the boy.

"The future of China's ice-and-snow sports depends on your generation," Xi encouraged the young players.

The president's enthusiasm for winter sports has gone beyond personal, spawning a blueprint for the nation.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, addresses a Chinese Lunar New Year reception at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, Jan. 30, 2022. (Xinhua/Ju Peng)

In China, winter sports mainly prevail in the northeast region. A nationwide rollout is expected to involve around two to three hundred million people, Xi told International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach during their meeting in 2014.

This goal has been achieved in just a few years. Recent statistics show that a total of 346 million Chinese people have participated in winter sports activities since Beijing's successful bid for the Winter Olympics in 2015.

"The ultimate goal of building a sporting powerhouse and a healthy China is to strengthen the people's fitness, which also forms an essential part of China's endeavor to build a modern socialist country in an all-round manner," Xi said earlier while inspecting the preparations for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing. 

(Web editor: Du Mingming, Bianji)


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