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Beijing's towering glory

By SUN XIAOCHEN | China Daily | Updated: 2018-06-14 09:19
Shougang industrial park in its current state (top), and an artist's conception of how the big air snowboard ramp is expected to look upon completion of the regeneration project for the 2022 Winter Olympics.  WANG JING/CHINA DAILY

Old steel mill's transformation into Games venue to be done by 2019

The thrills and chills of winter sports are set to breathe new life into an abandoned industrial site in Beijing.

The Shougang steel mill in the west of the capital has been idle since being closed before the 2008 Summer Olympics to cut pollution.

Now it is being transformed into a stunning permanent venue for the 2022 Winter Games, featuring a giant ramp for big air snowboarding that will rise against the backdrop of forsaken cooling towers and smokestacks, evoking the capital's industrial past.

Construction of the 60-meter-high ramp and refurbishment of warehouses for broadcasting, media and hospitality functions during the Games will begin later this year on a deadline to be finished by the end of next year, according to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics organizing committee.

The other new facility under construction is the National Speed Skating Oval, situated in northern Beijing's Olympic Park.

"We had other proposals to build the venue elsewhere, but the idea to combine dynamic sporting action with industrial heritage won over the International Olympic Committee for the vision of sustainability," said Liu Yumin, executive deputy director of the committee's general planning and construction department.

"The project will serve as an anchor for the entire plan to repurpose the industrial compound into a future destination of winter sports and related leisure activities."

Staging big air at the Shougang complex also ticks boxes with the International Ski Federation, which prefers urban venues to better promote the relatively new event, added Liu.

Big air, which involves boarders hurling themselves off a snow ramp to perform aerial tricks, made its Olympic debut at the Pyeongchang Games in February when athletes competed at a temporary venue.

Beijing 2022's permanent slope plans to offer year-round snowboard and ski training after the Games with the use of a detachable artificial "dry snow" surface, which provides enough lubrication and friction to emulate turns and jumps on real snow, according to developer Beijing Sinolym Co.

After the Games, the facility is expected to host the Air and Style world series, which has made Beijing one of its global legs annually since 2010.

Besides becoming a competition venue, the Shougang compound has been home to the Beijing 2022 organizing committee since May 2016.

Building a training complex for ice-based events such as skating and curling, an Olympic museum and recreational facilities are also part of Shougang Group's long-term plan to rejuvenate the industrial park beyond 2022.

Zhang Jiandong, vice-mayor of Beijing and executive vice-president of the Beijing 2022 organizing committee, said Shougang's portfolio of regeneration projects bodes well for the Games.

"Beijing 2022 will make sure that the Shougang complex fully enjoys the wide range of benefits that come with the Olympic brand, so that it achieves more growth and becomes a new landmark of urban regeneration in Beijing," Zhang said.

Last week, Shougang Group was announced as the official urban regeneration services partner of the 2022 Games.

Tuesday's signing ceremony was attended by IOC president Thomas Bach and Andrew Parsons, president of the International Paralympic Committee.

Bach said one of the impressive highlights from Beijing 2022 will be sustainability: "You only need to look at Shougang park to see the positive effect that awarding the Olympic Games had for this area."

Zhang Gongyan, board member and general manager of Shougang Group, said becoming a Beijing 2022 partner will boost the group's efforts in charting a new model of growth.

"Shougang will become a great example of urban development that has been facilitated by the Olympic Movement," he said.

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