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Floor curling: a new winter sports trend in Chinese schools

Xinhua | Updated: 2021-03-02 10:43
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A student practises floor curling in Yinchuan, Ningxia Hui autonomous region, Feb 26. [Photo/Xinhua]

YINCHUAN -- With schoolmates and her coach standing along the track and staring at the red curling in her hand, Li Jiajie chose to ignore them and focused on the yellow curling in the circle at the track's end - that is her goal.

"Go!" At the team leader's order, Li pushed forward the red curling stone, successfully attacking a yellow one, and scoring a point.

"The secret is to keep calm no matter how nervous you are, and you have to focus on your goal in the distance rather than the curling stone in your hand," said Li coolly amid the applause.

The 12-year-old Li is a sixth-grade student of a primary school in Yanchi County of northwest China's Ningxia Hui autonomous region. The students are competing on two floor curling tracks at the school's library.

In 2019, China proposed to take the opportunity of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics to develop winter sports and aimed to engage some 300 million people.

Many of China's schools have taken the chance to cultivate their students' skills for winter sports. For those in areas without ice and snow, land sports are becoming popular, especially floor curling.

Considering the dry climate and comparatively low tax base, there is no special field for winter sports in Yanchi at present. To get more students involved in winter sports and strengthen their physique, Yanchi has begun to popularize floor curling at all its 30 urban and rural schools since the end of 2019, including in kindergartens, primary, middle and high schools as well as vocational middle schools.

"Floor curling boasts advantages of low cost, accessibility to all ages, safety and low energy-consumption. It has won parents' and students' hearts since being promoted," said Guo Fenghong, the deputy director general with the Bureau of Education and Sports of Yanchi.

In 2019, Wang Xiuhong, Li's PE teacher, got trained with other PE teachers in Yanchi for teaching floor curling. "It's new to us, and we like it so much. Many naughty students have become calm and learned to analyze problems after learning the sport for several months," Wang said.

According to Wang, the school has picked four boys and four girls among more than 100 students showing interest in floor curling, and organized two teams for long-time training and racing.

"Since all middle and high schools in our county provide training for this sport, they can continue to learn it after graduating from primary school," Wang said.

Under his guidance, students of the two teams practice quite hard. As a member of the girls' team, Li has to arrive at school half and an hour earlier and leave an hour later than her peers just for training on workdays. At weekends, they have to practice it for about five hours a day.

"Unlike dancing and playing basketball, floor curling won't consume too much energy, so it won't affect my school achievements," said Li, "Thanks to the sport, I have become more outgoing and learned how to keep calm in many situations."

In the first floor curling competition held in Yanchi last year, Li's team defeated a team of high school students and won the championship. "And all of our four girls are excellent in their school achievements," said Wang.

As the first county in Ningxia promoting floor curling to all its schools, Yanchi dreams big. "We plan to attract students from other cities to join us, and build a special field for winter sports. We hope our boys and girls can take part in international competitions in the future," said Guo.

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