Sports / China

Stars promote winter sports

By Lei Lei (China Daily) Updated: 2014-04-16 07:08

For Chen Lu, China's first women's figure skating world champion, the way to continue a life on ice is helping provide a place for more youth to join the sport.

As the manager of the World Ice Arena, an upscale mall rink in Shenzhen, she was among the first in the country to run a commercial ice arena.

After retiring from competition after the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympic Games, where Chen claimed her second Olympic bronze medal, she performed with a commercial skating show in the United States until she was offered a chance to run an ice arena by property developer China Resources Land.

"When I learned that the ice arena was in Shenzhen, I realized that it was a good chance to promote skating in southern China," said Chen, who is also one of the coaches at the arena.

"The commercial ice arena business is very mature in the US, drawing lots of skating fans. I wanted to bring that to China."

World Ice Arena opened at the beginning of 2005. After nearly 10 years, it now has more than 40,000 members.

"It shows that running a ice rink can be successful. It helped to promote ice sports in China," said Chen, who took her first world champion title in 1995.

"I'm glad to see that more people are joining the sport. I want more people to know that skating is not only for athletes, but also for ordinary people."

Chen is not alone on the track to promoting winter sports in China.

Stars promote winter sports

Ye Qiaobo, China's first Winter Olympic medalist, and Yang Yang, its first Winter Olympic champion, are doing the same.

Using Ye's name, an indoor ski dome opened in Shunyi district of Beijing in 2005. Covering about 40,000 square meters, the Qiaobo Ski Dome is the only place to ski all year-round in northern China.

"My heart always belongs to sports and I'm very glad to see those young ski fans practicing in the ski dome. It's a continuation of my dream. I hope it can be a cradle of future Olympic champions," said Ye, who won two silver medals at the 1992 Winter Olympic Games in women's speed skating.

Yang also started her own skating center in 2013 when Feiyang Skating Center opened in Shanghai last June.

Her center is a comprehensive skating arena in Shanghai capable of hosting international competitions in short track speed skating, ice hockey, figure skating and curling.

The contribution by retired stars has been highly praised by the sports authority.

"All of them pave the way for China's winter sports and made great contributions to its development," said Xiao Tian, deputy director of the State General Administration of Sport. "They are still working for the popularity of winter sports in China and we respect them very much."

(China Daily 04/16/2014 page24)

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