87-year-old granny's ageless passion for skiing

(Xinhua) 13:15, December 26, 2022

People snowboard at a ski resort in Urumqi, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Dec. 5, 2022. (Xinhua/Ding Lei)

URUMQI, Dec. 24 (Xinhua) -- As this year's ski season got underway, Liu Zhihua joined the crowd at a ski resort and glided fluently down the piste. With only a brief break, she took a brisk turn, got onto a chairlift and was ready for another round.

Liu has become a star at the resort in Urumqi, the capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Dressed in her baby blue suit and white helmet, she blends in with the other ski enthusiasts, but in fact, she is the resort's oldest skier, at 87 years of age.

Though a fluent skier now, Liu only took up the sport when she was 72. Up until then, like many old people, she would spend her days taking care of her grandchildren, watching TV or playing mahjong.

Encouraged by her children, Liu got on the piste for the very first time in 2007. "The first day was not easy. My waist and legs ached. But in the following days, I was able to walk on the skis," Liu recalled. "After conquering the fear of falling, I became increasingly interested in it and got addicted as time passed."

Starting on the beginner slopes, Liu gradually advanced to intermediate runs, and has even got onto the advanced ones.

"I've taken part in a competition twice. I didn't do it for a medal. Finishing the competition without falling is enough for me," she said.

When asked about the setbacks she had encountered during her years of skiing, Liu recalled that she fell over while going down a slope due to a lack of experience. "But skill comes from practice. Just get used to it," she said.

People participate in snow entertainment at a ski resort in Kazak Autonomous County of Mori, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Dec. 12, 2022. (Xinhua/Wang Fei)

For Liu, skiing is also a way to keep herself young and lively. Despite being the oldest ski enthusiast at the resort, she thinks she is just as vigorous as younger skiers. "No one can tell your age when everyone's in a ski suit and with snow caps and goggles on," said Liu with a smile.

As her passion for the alpine sport unfolds, the industry is also gaining momentum in Xinjiang. Home to ice-and-snow tourism destinations such as Urumqi, Altay and Ili, the region has now become a paradise for winter sports lovers.

Ranking first in China in terms of the latitude, temperature and elevation difference of its pistes, Urumqi has been listed among China's top 10 ice-and-snow tourism cities for six years in a row.

These days, Liu skis for about two hours at a time under the protection of her instructors. Although she skis less often than in previous years, Liu is determined to continue as long as possible. "I'd rather fall on a piste than lie on a sickbed," said Liu.

"Health and happiness are the two things that doing sports has brought to me," she said. "I don't think age has much to do with my mindset. Old or young, I have been brave and optimistic."

(Web editor: Cai Hairuo, Wu Chaolan)


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