Steel rolling worker turned ice maker serves Beijing 2022 Winter Games to produce exquisite world-class ice surfaces

(People's Daily Online) 16:55, March 22, 2022

Liu Boqiang, who previously worked as a steel rolling worker for over 20 years for Chinese steelmaker Shougang Group, embraced a career transition with the arrival of the Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

Liu Boqiang makes ice in a curling rink in the Shougang Park in Beijing. (Photo/Beijing Daily)

In 2016, the Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games set foot into Shougang Park, once an industrial complex under Shougang Group. Some of its workshops would go on to be transformed into ice venues for figure skating, short-track speed skating, curling and ice hockey competitions.

In July 2017, Liu attended a three-month ice-making training program at the Capital Indoor Stadium in Beijing. To acquire ice-making techniques, Liu spent over a dozen hours a day practicing. After the training was finished, he continued to learn new skills from ice-making experts at the stadium on weekends.

Making ice is actually much more complicated than what it appears, especially since the ice venues at Shougang Park had to meet Olympic standards.

Liu later became an assistant to a top ice-making expert for curling rinks at Shougang Park. To make the ice more amenable to the sport, a technique called pebbling is employed, which involves freezing small droplets of water across the playing surface between each match. It is a very difficult task technically and only top ice makers can master the technique. Liu hoped to master the technique, but had no chance to try out pebbling curling rinks.

Given this situation, he practiced pebbling on the roadside outside of the curling venue and persisted in the task even when his right hand became swollen. Due to all the frequent high-intensity exercises, Liu’s right arm is now thicker than his left arm.

Liu finally got an opportunity to pebble a curling rink and succeeded at last in his attempt. The expert later decided to let him go ahead to make the ice.

When Liu learned that he would serve the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games before the opening ceremony of the mega sporting event, he knew that his dream had come true.

During the Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, Liu, along with top ice makers from around the world, helped maintain the frozen surface of curling rinks at the National Aquatics Center, which was transformed into the “Ice Cube” to serve as the venue for curling events and wheelchair curling events during the Games. He took every opportunity to learn from those top ice makers. “I wanted to learn the most advanced ice-making techniques,” Liu said.

“I felt so honored to make ice for the Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games,” said Liu. “By changing my job from one related to ‘fire’ to one related to ‘ice,’ I realized my dream and found a new life. I will contribute my part to the development of China’s ice-making industry,” he added.

(Web editor: Hongyu, Liang Jun)


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