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Winter resorts get ski lift

By Yang Feiyue | China Daily | Updated: 2021-12-28 08:19
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Skiers hit the slopes at the Genting Snow Park, a venue for the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games, in Chongli district, Zhangjiakou, in Hebei province. WANG ZHAO/AFP

Li Wei was a community worker when Beijing won the bid to host the Winter Olympics in 2015.

His daily job included arranging sports and cultural events for community residents in his jurisdiction to bond with one another.

"I had never thought of engaging much in the way of any winter sports, much less making a career out of it," says the 39-year-old local from Shaoyaoyu village in northwestern Beijing's Yanqing district.

"If my memory serves me right, I had only skied about three times between 2012 and 2017," Li says.

Like many residents in Yanqing, Li was simply excited that an international event of great significance is going to take place right on his doorstep.

When the local authority gave support to the founding of a ski team to encourage locals to participate in winter sports in 2017, he jumped at the opportunity.

"I signed up, because team members would be given free access to the ski facilities," Li says half-jokingly.

Later, the initiative that founded the team also received business sponsorship that provided Li and his teammates skiing equipment and snowsuits.

Although the beginning was tough for Li as a skiing novice, it gradually became a nice diversion for him, especially after his team was given professional training on the slopes.

"I would rather skip lunch than miss my ski practice at noon," he says.

Li's skills have improved tremendously, and he has gone from stumbling along on a junior-level ski runs to racing smoothly down steep advanced pistes. Eventually he has worked his way up to being a professional ski coach and judge.

His team has grown from 18 to about 80, and they have given training to more than 10,000 skiers.

"None of it would have happened, if it weren't for the city being named host of the Winter Olympics, which have offered a better platform for ski enthusiasts in Yanqing," Li says.

Home to venues for the upcoming Winter Olympics, Yanqing has been committed to popularizing winter sports and publicizing Winter Olympics culture by organizing public ski events and related classes at night, says Ye Dahua, an official with the district.

So far, in Yanqing, participants in winter sports classes have totaled 81,000, and about 50,000 people are making a living from businesses related to the sector.

Local primary and middle school students have been allowed to opt for skiing and other winter sports as their extracurricular activities.

To date, approximately 24,000 students in Yanqing have taken up winter sports.

The district will enjoy the wide-ranging prospects offered by use of the venues post-Games, and transform itself into an international ski and tourism resort, says Ding Zhangchun, deputy district head.

After the Games, Yanqing will further enhance its skiing facilities for the public and build ice-and-snow resorts to provide winter sports, leisure and tourism, according to the Legacy Report of Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Beijing that was launched in June.

In spring, summer and autumn, a variety of outdoor leisure and sports activities will also be available.

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