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Sporting welcome as resorts give customers a healthy option

China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-02-01 08:56
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After eating dumplings on the first day of the Year of the Rabbit, Tong Shijin packed his ski equipment, started his car and headed to a place that was quite familiar to him. Tong is a ski enthusiast in Hohhot, North China's Inner Mongolia autonomous region. After his graduation from university, he set up a skiing club, opened an equipment store with his friends and became a coach.

After a 30-minute drive, Tong arrived at the Mazongshan Ski Resort. As he didn't need to offer guidance to novice skiers, he had enough time to enjoy the slopes recreationally, skiing in the clear air and bright sunshine.

"It feels so cool. Without so many people here, now I can gambol as much as I like," Tong says.

Nowadays in China, the Spring Festival holiday is not only about reuniting with family members and visiting scenic spots, but also basking in the joy of sports.

Like Tong, people across the country have engaged themselves in various sports during the holiday.

On a badminton court at the Zhengzhou Olympic Sports Center in Henan province, Jia Junling wiped the sweat off his face after finishing a game with a friend.

"We have been playing here for four days since the Lunar New Year's Eve, without missing a single day," Jia says with a grin. "Playing badminton and chatting with friends makes me feel happy and healthy. It's a meaningful way to celebrate Spring Festival."

In many cities, sports venues are open to the public free of charge or at a low price during the holiday, with the aim of attracting more people.

In East China's Zhejiang province, sports venues in Hangzhou, the host city of the 19th Asian Games set to take place between Sept 23 and Oct 8 this year, are free or accessible at a low cost for around 12 hours every day for citizens to work out, which ensures the nonstop operation of the venues during the holiday.

According to the State General Administration of Sport, thousands of national fitness activities have been organized across China during the weeklong holiday, providing an accessible platform for people to enjoy the festival in a healthy way.

On Lunar New Year, the first day of the first lunar month, artistic swimming world champions Jiang Tingting and Jiang Wenwen, and several other renowned athletes, led thousands of people in an 8.8-kilometer run around Lake Xinglong in the Tianfu New Area of Chengdu, capital of Southwest China's Sichuan province.

According to the swimming siblings, a healthy lifestyle is "the best Spring Festival gift".

Rural areas work on integrating sports with local characteristics to create tailored events for residents.

Every year in Jiangshan, Zhejiang province, people usually participate in the village games, which have events with specific local characteristics, such as firewood lifting or fishing competitions.

It was the first time Xu Wenjia had competed in the village games. The 23-year-old from Baisha village had not attempted firewood lifting before entering the competition, but managed to lift it eight times.

"As people in Baisha village make their living from wood, we have organized the firewood lifting competition to remind ourselves of this tradition," says Zheng Rifu, secretary of the village's Party branch.

Ice and snow sports have also offered people a way of celebrating the holidays, as the legacy of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games continues.

As of Oct 2021, more than 346 million Chinese people had participated in winter sports or related leisure activities since 2015, when Beijing won the 2022 Olympic bid, exceeding China's aim to engage 300 million people in winter sports.

That enthusiasm remained undimmed over the first winter since the Beijing Winter Olympics. Hugely inspired by the Games, people had fun with winter sports across China during the Spring Festival holiday.

"Last year, I watched the opening ceremony of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics with family members at home, and watched Su Yiming and Gu Ailing's competitions with my friends in the hall of the ski resort," Tong recalls.

At Beijing's Jundushan Ski Resort, Chen Wanqiong quickly got up after taking a tumble on the piste.

"I'm not adept at skiing as it's my only second time trying it, but it feels great to glide down from the top of the hill," says Chen.

According to deputy general manager Wang Ji, the ski resort has witnessed 80 percent of the usual visitor flow during the Spring Festival holiday, compared with 50 percent during the New Year holiday, and 10 to 20 percent of the previous year at the start of this snow season.

In Northeast China's Heilongjiang province, more than 30,000 people visited Harbin Songhuajiang Ice and Snow Carnival on a daily basis, taking part in different kinds of ice and snow-related recreational activities, including curling and riding snowmobiles and snow bikes.

Spurred by Beijing Winter Olympics, a growing number of people in China's southern provinces, where ice and snow are rarely seen, have shown their enthusiasm for winter sports.

During the Chinese New Year holiday, people swarmed to Quanzhou county, South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, to ski in the mountains, which boast an altitude of over 1,700 meters.

"We have brought our kids here from Liuzhou (a city in Guangxi) to experience skiing. It's quite fun and thrilling," says a tourist surnamed Zou.

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