Feature: Winter sports heat up in China's warm regions

(Xinhua) 15:24, January 18, 2024

HOHHOT, China, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- At the mixed doubles youth curling competition of China's 14th National Winter Games, Sichuan province finished second, Guizhou third, and Chongqing fifth, demonstrating the growing strength of winter sports in the traditionally warmer southern regions of China.

However, all curling athletes in southern China began their careers with the fundamental question: "What is this and how do we play?"

"When our women's ice hockey team was formed, the athletes didn't even know how to put on their competition suits," said Yang Hongyan, an official with the Winter Sports Management Center at Sichuan Sports College. "The suits have many layers and different pieces of protective gear, and the coaches had to teach them how to put them on one by one."

Yang noted that Sichuan's ice and snow sports have developed rapidly since then, with the province's women's ice hockey youth team winning the 2023 National Youth Women's Ice Hockey Championship (U18) in just four years.

Tian Rui, captain of Guizhou's curling team, shared that Guizhou's winter sports have also seen rapid growth in recent years, with some players from the province being selected for the national team.

Gong Changyuting, a competitor at China's 14th National Winter Games, was chosen for the national team for the 2024 Winter Youth Olympics, while Guizhou athletes clinched the men's title at the 2023 World Junior Curling Championships.

The surge in winter sports in southern China can be partly attributed to the national strategy to promote and expand winter sports, along with the popularity boost from the Beijing Winter Olympics.

"I've noticed that commercial ice rinks in Chengdu are quite busy on weekends. Additionally, the successful hosting of the Beijing Winter Olympics has encouraged many parents to introduce their children to winter sports," Yang observed.

In recent years, China's southern provinces have ramped up support for winter sports, constructing ice rinks and ski resorts, and offering training programs to engage more participants.

The impressive performance of the southern teams in their debut at the National Winter Games has bolstered their confidence in the future of winter sports in the region.

Zhang Ge, deputy director of Chongqing's Winter Sports Management Center, remarked that Chongqing's fifth-place finish at the National Winter Games marks a significant milestone for the development of curling in the city and sets a higher standard for future achievements.

"The increasing presence of local sports stars will undoubtedly inspire more children to engage in winter sports," added Li Chuan, captain of Chongqing's curling team.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


Related Stories