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Inspiring excellence

By SUN XIAOCHEN | China Daily | Updated: 2023-02-03 09:51
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A year after Beijing 2022's grand opening, winter sports have engaged the Chinese public as a healthy and trendy way of life, facilitated by sports venues and infrastructure left by the Games. [Photo/Xinhua and China Daily]

Legacy allows China to reap post-Games social and economic benefits

One year since it opened to worldwide acclaim, legacies of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics have continued to fuel China's winter sports boom, with memories of the Games still relished by many.

With all the breathtaking action and inspirational stories now part of history, the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, which opened on Feb 4 last year, is still having a lasting impact on winter sports promotion around the country, highlighted by the bustling scenes at ski resorts, skating rinks and ice and snow carnivals across the country during the recent Spring Festival holiday break.

Having impressed top Olympians with their sleek looks and world-class facilities, most of the official Beijing 2022 competition venues, which reopened to the public last year, have proved hot favorites among holiday destinations for their unique Olympic flavor and fun events programs.

An iconic dual-Olympic venue, the National Aquatics Center, which was built for the 2008 Summer Games (when it was nicknamed the "Water Cube"), was transformed to host curling at the winter edition last year. During the recent holiday break, from Jan 21-27, it welcomed over 30,000 visitors to cap its busiest, and perhaps most entertaining, public Spring Festival operation ever.

The center, re-dubbed the "Ice Cube" at Beijing 2022, opened an underground ice sports arena, which lies beneath its southern square and consists of two rinks, which are open to the public for entry-level curling practice, figure skating training and ice hockey games.

The authentic Olympic experience, in the shape of the high-standard ice surfaces and Beijing 2022 decor and setup, have proved a game-changer for the venue's business operation in the post-Olympic era.

"We want people to enjoy a truly immersive Games experience by visiting us, enabling them to learn more about curling and encouraging them to try the sport on ice," said Yang Qiyong, general manager of the aquatics center.

Developed for swimming and diving competitions at the 2008 Games, the venue turned itself into a multifunctional arena capable of switching from aquatic to ice sports in 2021 through a reversible project, which involved filling the pool with steel structures to support an ice surface above.

After impressing the world's best curling athletes at Beijing 2022, Yang said, "Now it's time for us to engage the public as much as possible to keep the momentum from the Olympics going."

About a 40-minute drive to the northwest of downtown Beijing, located on Xiaohaituo Mountain, is the National Alpine Ski Center in the city's suburban Yanqing district, which hosted all alpine events at Beijing 2022. It has become the newest and most convenient destination for the increasing number of skiing enthusiasts in the capital.

During the seven-day holiday, over 20,000 customers visited the mountain cluster, which also includes the National Sliding Center that hosted luge, bobsled and skeleton events, to enjoy the fun of skiing down 14 slopes that had thrilled Olympic skiers last year, as well as an adrenaline-pumping bobsled ride down the sliding center's twisting ice track.

Ticket sales and hotel revenues in the area exceeded 10 million yuan ($1.48 million) over the first five days of the Lunar New Year, according to the district government, kicking the venue's post-Olympic operation off to a flying start.

Inspired by the host delegation's victorious campaign at Beijing 2022, where Team China bagged a record haul of 15 medals, including nine golds, winter sports participation is also taking over mountain resorts in Zhangjiakou, Hebei province, which co-hosted the Games with Beijing.

Genting Snow Park, located in Zhangjiakou's mountainous Chongli district, reached its peak season during the Spring Festival break, welcoming over 5,000 skiers and snowboarders every day who were attracted by its Olympic-standard slopes that hosted freestyle skiing and snowboarding competitions at Beijing 2022.

Wang Shitong, the resort's general manager for mountain operations, said the Olympic facilities and upgraded services at the venue have hugely benefited business recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Having served the world's best athletes as an Olympic venue definitely gives us a huge advantage, both from a marketing and an operational standpoint," Wang said.

"Our whole team, from snowmaking and course building to emergency response, has improved greatly thanks to the hands-on involvement in operations during the Olympics, so that technically, the experiences we now offer to our customers are on the next level."

Since the beginning of the winter season in mid-November, Genting has opened 41 snow courses to the public, including three that hosted the parallel giant slalom, cross and slopestyle skiing and snowboarding competitions at Beijing 2022.

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