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Stunning venue ready for liftoff

By Du Juan | China Daily | Updated: 2019-11-07 09:31
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A computer-generated image of the Big Air snowboard and ski slope at Shougang Industrial Park in western Beijing. PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY

The 2022 Winter Olympics' Big Air snowboard and ski slope is officially ready for liftoff, with the facility's visually stunning location on the site of a former steel mill certain to wow the world.

Built at Shougang Industrial Park, the 164-meter-long, 64-meter-high ramp, the first permanent construction of its kind in China, was completed on Oct 31, according to Beijing's municipal regulatory body.

The completion of the ramp, where four gold medals will be up for grabs at the Games, marks a major step in the transformation of the former steel plant into a 2022 venue.

Built adjacent to disused cooling towers and smokestacks, which evoke Beijing's industrial past, the Big Air slope ranks among the more impressive venues in Olympic history, rivaling the 2008 Summer Games' Bird's Nest stadium and the Water Cube for aesthetic impact.

After the Games, the venue will continue to stage world-class winter sports meets, including the Air &Style series, as well as serving as a training base for China's national teams.

It will also be open to the public, according to Huang Hui, an official from the Beijing Major Projects Construction Headquarters Office.

The adjustable slope will be usable in all seasons, so will be capable of hosting sports such as water skiing and grass skiing.

Big Air involves boarders or skiers hurling themselves off a snow-covered ramp to perform aerial tricks. The snowboarding version made its Olympic debut at the Pyeongchang Games when athletes competed at a temporary venue.

Big Air skiing is a new addition for 2022.

"I'm very glad to see the slope will be used after the Olympics, which means it's much better value than a temporary facility," said Zhang Heng, founder and president of Beijing Sanfo Outdoors Company. "It's also in accordance with the Olympic spirit that encourages all people to participate in sports."

Zhang's company is hoping to cash in on Olympic-related business and has already secured dealerships for many foreign ski-wear brands.

"There's no doubt that more permanent skiing venues in the city will help attract more people to join in winter sports," he said.

Construction of the facility began last December, with all the ramp's steel produced in China, according to project manager Wang Guoqin.

"The special fire-proof steel materials that were used for the judges' area were developed in China and it is the first time they are being used in China," he said.

Beijing-based Shougang Group moved its steel production to nearby Hebei province in 2010 as part of the capital's efforts to improve air quality.

The Beijing site has gradually been transformed into a hub for cultural and creative industries, with the 2022 organizing committee one of its newest tenants.

More regeneration will follow at the park, with the plant's old cooling pump station to be converted into a check-in hall and office buildings.

The four cooling towers which dominate the horizon will be turned into auditoriums or multi-function halls, according to Xu Yan, an official from a Shougang subsidiary company, which constructed the venue.

"We have combined the remnants of the industrial site into the design of the new venue to realize a better effect," he said. "The ski jump is backdropped by mountains and rivers, presenting a mixture of Olympic culture, industrial flavor and the natural environment."

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