Youth power snow and ice industries in NE China's Heilongjiang

(People's Daily Online) 09:36, February 22, 2024

1. Photo shows the Harbin Ice-Snow World in Harbin, northeast China's Heilongjiang Province. (Photo/Heng Hongjie)

2. Li Guofeng (left), a coach for short track speed skating, instructs a trainee. (Xinhua/Dai Jinrong)

3. Xu Ruifeng works in the dining area of his B&B hotel. (Photo/Hao Daqing)

4. Chen Rongxin repairs an ice sculpture. (People's Daily/Fang Yuan)

5. Photo shows a forest farm in Hailin city, northeast China's Heilongjiang Province. (Photo/You Jinhua)

In northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, a group of young people are dedicated to promoting ice and snow culture, sports, and tourism. They utilize the region's "cold resources" to boost the local economy and showcase the power of youth in the world of ice and snow.

Zhaolin Park in Harbin, the provincial capital, is home to a collection of small interactive ice sculptures that captivate visitors. Tourists from across the country come here to admire and interact with delicate ice microphones, ice high heels, ice rings, and others.

Chen Rongxin, an ice sculptor born in the 1990s, showcases his talent through his imaginative ice sculptures. His journey into the world of ice sculpting began in 2008 during his junior high school years. With his artistic background, Chen won first prize in an ice sculpting competition for primary and secondary school students in Harbin.

This achievement ignited his passion for this unique art form. Despite working in design in various cities after graduating from college, his love for ice and snow never wavered. In 2018, he decided to return to his hometown of Harbin and dedicate himself to a career in ice sculpting.

Chen initially faced resistance from his family. He explained that while the final ice sculptures are visually stunning, the process of carving them is incredibly challenging.

"Working in freezing temperatures for extended periods of time often leads to occupational diseases such as rheumatism and gastrointestinal inflammation. Even with the use of professional rubber gloves, the sculptor's fingers are still susceptible to knife cuts," said Chen.

Traditionally, ice sculptures have been seen as distant art pieces. However, Chen's interactive ice sculptures bring a sense of fun to the art form. Chen said that he noticed visitors' fascination with broken ice on the ground, which inspired him to transform it into various small objects to make them more attractive. By infusing elements popular among young people into the traditional field, Chen aims to bring innovation to ice and snow carving.

Li Guofeng, who coaches short track speed skating in Qitaihe city, was born after 1995. He started his skating journey at the age of 8 and rapidly advanced. He once won first place in the national league championship.

In 2015, Li retired from short track speed skating due to injury. However, his passion for the sport remained. Fueled by his deep love for short track speed skating, he began considering the possibility of transitioning into coaching if he could no longer compete as an athlete.

Li's transition from being an athlete to becoming a coach hasn't diminished his love for ice and snow. His training sessions are scheduled from 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Despite the challenges, Li finds worthwhile when he witnesses the children's enthusiasm for skating and their unwavering pursuit of their championship dreams.

In 2019, Li's exceptional performance led to his appointment as the independent leader of a team consisting of key trainees.

He recognizes that this role is not just a job but a responsibility that impacts the hopes and future of 20 children. While guiding the team, he fulfills his duties by not only teaching them the technical aspects but also caring for their well-being.

In late 2023, Li was chosen to join the national training team for ice and snow sports as an equipment coach for a six-month period. He intended to compile the advanced teaching concepts and approaches he learned into notes to enhance the growth and progress of the children when he returns to Qitaihe.

Li's elite short track speed skating class in Qitaihe has attracted children from all over the country in recent years.

In 2023, a national youth short track speed skating invitational took place in Qitaihe, with over 340 athletes from 23 teams representing 13 provinces and cities. Yan Enqi, one of Li's trainees, emerged as the champion in both the 500-meter and 1,000-meter short track speed skating events.

Despite the freezing temperatures outside, Xu Ruifeng was busy in his B&B hotel.

Situated in Beiji village, Mohe city, within the Greater Khingan Range, the tourism industry in this area is flourishing. Beiji village's distinctive geographical location and climate conditions draw tourists from across the country who seek to experience the magic of ice and snow.

"We create themed drinks inspired by ice and snow, auroras, and more, using freshly ground coffee paired with local specialties like blueberries and cranberries, providing visitors with an unforgettable experience," said Xu, while serving guests.

Last September, Xu decided to return to his hometown of Beiji village, leaving behind a high-paying job in the south. Taking over the operations of the B&B hotel from his mother, he embarked on significant renovations.

"After my return, I rearranged the facility's layout. We provide northeastern-style costumes for guests to capture memorable photos and offer experiences such as dog sled rides, enabling visitors to immerse themselves in the rich folk customs of Beiji village," explained Xu.

Xu also introduced advanced service concepts to Beiji village, outfitting the hotel with a whole-house voice control system, smart toilets, panoramic floor-to-ceiling windows, and other modern amenities.

"Through the enhanced interior layout, guests can have an improved view of the village and relish the sight of snowflakes descending all around from the comfort of the house," he said.

(Web editor: Hongyu, Liang Jun)


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