Sports / China

Water Cube to be transformed for events on ice

By Sun Xiaochen (China Daily) Updated: 2015-08-11 07:57

Water Cube to be transformed for events on ice

Water Cube [Photo by Liu Hongan/Asianewsphoto]

Preparations for the 2022 Winter Olympics will see the iconic Water Cube transformed into an "ice cube" as organizers ready it to host curling and skating events, the venue operator said on Monday.

Built for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics' swimming and diving events, the National Aquatics Center, known for its "plastic bubble" exterior, will host curling events during the Olympics and wheelchair curling events during the Paralympic Games, according to Beijing's bid plan.

Thanks to the experience gained from hosting the welcoming banquet for the APEC meetings in November, venue operator shave the expertise to transition the Water Cube from a swimming facility to an ice-covered curling venue by 2022, said Yang Qiyong, general manager of the National Aquatics Center Co.

"It seems a stretch to change a swimming pool into a curling rink, but we've proved that it's feasible by hosting a series of "dry-land" events over the competition pool used in 2008" during the Summer Olympics, Yang told China Daily.

The techniques and structures used during the APEC meetings to cover the pool for the banquet will be upgraded by 2022 to provide a solid and flat surface for four Olympic-standard curling rinks, Yang said.

A new ice-making system will be installed before the end of next year for ice-paving operation tests, while the air-conditioning system will be upgraded so that it can dehumidify the air sufficiently to maintain a frostless ice surface.

Kate Caithness, president of the World Curling Federation, was impressed by the Water Cube's transition plan after inspecting the venue in October.

"They did a fabulous job in 2008 with the Summer Olympics. They have venues here such as the Water Cube that to my understanding will have no problem hosting curling," she said.

Operational areas at the venue will be refurbished and transformed into separate zones as athletes' locker rooms, media workrooms and tournament organizing centers by 2022, according to Yang.

After completing major hardware revamps in 2017, the Water Cube will host some regional-level curling and skating competitions as well as on-ice performances and commercial events, Yang said.

"After the transformation, the venue will be versatile enough to host not only summer events but also winter activities. We will be able to transform from pool to rink according to our event schedule throughout the year," he said.

The company also plans to build an outdoor commercial rink south of the Water Cube to cater to the public's growing demand for recreational winter sports - a demand resulting from Beijing's successful bid for the 2022 Games.

"I think it's a good idea to turn the Water Cube into a winter sports destination in winter, as more accessible parks in the downtown area are needed," said Liu Yuli, an amateur-skating enthusiast in Beijing.


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