Sports / China

Chongli determined not to skate on thin ice

By Zhang Yu and Wang Wei in Zhangjiakou, Hebei (China Daily) Updated: 2016-08-01 07:51

Chongli, a county in Zhangjiakou, Hebei province, has attracted growing attention since Beijing and Zhangjiakou were named as the co-hosts of the 2022 Winter Olympics a year ago.

"It's only 220 km from Beijing, but you can feel the totally different climate here," said Wang Shulan, a Beijinger who, along with her husband, is spending three months in the county, which will be the venue for snow-based events. "Instead of the hot, dry climate in the capital, the weather here is cool and comfortable."

"The success of the 2022 Winter Olympics will mainly depend on Zhangjiakou," said Ma Yujun, the city's mayor, on Thursday.

Ma compared Chongli with the shortest stave in Cannikin's Law - the capacity of a wooden bucket is determined by the shortest stave - because the formerly impoverished county has never before hosted an event of such magnitude, so its ability to cope will be crucial.

Noting that all the venues will be built from scratch, Ma said, "The success of the Games will depend on how fast Zhangjiakou can develop in the next five years."

Last month, the International Ski Federation named Zhangjiakou as the venue for the 2021 FIS Freestyle Ski and Snowboard World Championships, which means the city will have to finish the construction and testing of eight snow-event venues by 2021.

"The past year has been dominated by planning for venues, infrastructure, environment improvements and transportation," Ma said.

The city is currently working on general plans for the venues, and 27 special plans for infrastructure and transportation will be completed by the end of the year.

By September, Chongli will finish planning an Olympic Forest Park, a "snow town" in nearby Taizicheng village and a cluster of sports-related industries.

Most of the planning and design of the venues is underway, and the local government is now preparing supporting activities, such as improving the air quality - by 2022, Zhangjiakou will plant 517,000 hectares of trees, with the forestry coverage rate reaching 50 percent - and attracting foreign investment to develop the local winter sports industry.

Twenty countries, including Austria, Denmark, Canada and Japan, have established cooperative relations with Zhangjiakou to develop the city's ice and snow sports industry.

That has not only created business opportunities, it has also attracted a growing number of visitors.

About 2.5 million skiers visited Zhangjiakou, most predominantly Chongli, during winter 2015-16, a rise of 31 percent from the previous season.

With five ski resorts now in operation, the city can host about 1 million skiers at a time.

"In the next few years, more ski resorts will be built and the city will be able to host more than 10 million skiers," Ma said.

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