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Fun trail series to expand

By Sun Xiaochen | China Daily | Updated: 2019-11-28 09:48

The Alpine Ski Orienteering Open is going the extra mile for the nation's winter sports push by expanding to new destinations in its sixth season.

The innovative amateur series, which is staged within a smaller area compared to its larger cross-country version, sees three-member teams navigate through a dense network of snow trails on skis to make it to various control points (or checkpoints) in a certain order. The fastest team along the best route choice wins.

After progressing from a single-resort race to a three-destination series last season, the competition has added two more stops to its 2019-20 season, which kicks off on Dec 21 at Beidahu Ski Resort in Jilin province.

That will be followed by the Yabuli leg in Heilongjiang (Jan 11), its first overseas event at Suomutunturi Resort in Finland (Jan 25), and the Aoshan race in Shaanxi (Feb 8), before the March 7 national final jointly held by Genting and Wanlong resorts in Zhangjiakou, Beijing's co-host for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Hebei.

Co-organized by the Chinese Ski Association and China Sports Venue Association (CSVA), the series has developed into one of the most participated mass skiing events in China, with over 10,000 skiers of all ages signing up last season.

"The event has helped a lot in lowering the threshold for more of the public to try and experience skiing and orienteering as a healthy and fun lifestyle choice," said Zhang Dong, a deputy director of the CSVA's council.

Zhang was speaking at the launch of the series' new season at Beijing's Olympic Park on Wednesday to mark the 800-day countdown to the start of the 2022 Olympics.

"This event suits our country's conditions. It doesn't require terrain as large as the overseas cross-country version. And the downgraded difficulty level will help attract more beginners," he said.

Operated and promoted by Sportvane, this year's open series has received strong financial and logistical backing from three 2022 Games partners - Bank of China, dairy giant Yili Group and sportswear manufacturer Anta.

The assistance from Bank of China will significantly lower participation expenses to make the event more accessible for the public, said organizers.


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