Zhangjiakou prepares slopes

By Lu Wenao in Zhangjiakou Source:Global Times Published: 2014-9-13 0:38:01

Beijing’s partner city readies for Olympic bid

With Beijing one of just three remaining contestants bidding for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, Chongli county, in Zhangjiakou, Beijing's bidding partner in Hebei Province, already has preparations underway.

Chongli, about 220 kilometers northwest from downtown Beijing, is set to host all the skiing events save for alpine skiing if Beijing wins, according to a gymnasium layout plan disclosed by the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games Bid Committee earlier this year.

Zhang Chunsheng, a senior official with the bid committee in Zhangjia­kou, said the preparation has been "fast but stable" after Beijing became a candidate city in March.

The bid has brought a "27 percent rise" of global attention to Zhangjia­kou, according to Zhang.

The cable cars at Wanlong Ski Resort Photo: Cui Meng/GT

Resort construction

Four ski resorts in Chongli are now operational, while two of them, Genting Ski Resort and Wanlong Ski Resort, have already become well-known for their facilities.

There are a total of 82 ski trails in the county, with eight already sanctioned by world skiing governing body International Ski Federation.

Genting started its operation in 2011 while Wanlong already has ­operating experience of more than a decade.

Though the snow has yet to come this year, Genting has figured out ways to be a year-round resort, setting cross country cycling as a major entertainment in the snow-free seasons.

Excavators can be seen working on the slopes of the mountain, paving more ways for skiing enthusiasts.

Wanlong is also preparing to expand the number of its skiing trails, no matter whether the bid goes through or not, according to Yu ­Donglin, general manager with the resort.

Yu also mentioned there are many national skiing teams, including South Korea and Japan, who trained in Wanlong previously.

Wei Qinghua, a senior consultant with the bid committee in Zhangjia­kou who works on skiing for 11 years, said the five-month snowy period from November to April, with a snowfall of about 80 centimeters each year, is an excellent advantage for the bid.

He also believed the gathering of the ski resorts in the Taizicheng area of Chongli will boost the bid.

During the Sochi Winter Olympic Games earlier this year in February, snow on the course was seen melting.

Liu Jianjun, a weather expert, said the climate in Chongli in winter averages­ at about -12 C while in the day will be about -7 C, which dispelled the concerns about Chongli.

"The high vegetation cover in Chongli also indicates we can store up the snow cover," Liu added.

"What's more, the mountains around Chongli can block the strong wind outside, ­leaving the average wind scale at only two to three. "

Travel links

Whether the bid is successful or not, transport between Beijing and Zhangjiakou is already being improved.

The high-speed railway between the two cities is set to start construction after being approved by the government, in a bid to shorten the time for commuting.

An expressway between the two cities is also being planned, according to Bai Yinhai, county head of Chongli. Currently it takes about three hours to drive from Beijing to Chongli.

Bai said that since the announcement of the Winter Olympic Games bid last year, Chongli has seen 1.42 million visitors, which is far more than the county's population of about 13,000.

Xie Liang, secretary of Huangtuzui village in Chongli, said tourism revenue since the announcement has reached 3 million yuan ($489,000).

Yue Zhiyun, who owns a building compound in the village which acts as a hotel, said he has earned 200, 000 yuan this summer, and expects the figure to reach 500,000 at the year end due to the winter skiing frenzy.

A museum themed around snow and ice is also open to the local residents in Chongli, promoting winter sports and the Olympic Games.

Hao Shihua, a former skiing athlete and national champion, founded the Flower Ski School in Chongli in 2012, which sets training skiing coaches as the main object.

Hao said with the development of skiing in China, the void of skiing coaches is growing, which inspired her to create a school for future coaches.

A staff at the Flower Ski School shows how to practice skiing on a simulator. Photo: Cui Meng/GT

Citizens join hands

Though stuck by leukemia in his 50s, Ding Baocheng, a 68-year-old, has devoted himself to promoting the Winter Olympic Games bid with his delicate paper-cuts since his rehabilitation after a bone marrow transplantation surgery.

"It is not easy to have a Winter Olympic Games at home," Ding said in a hoarse voice. "I hope we can get it, so that I can do more things to help."

Ma Gui, who started to do ­engraving on eggshells after retiring, has made a lot of exquisite eggshell engravings featuring the heads of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and some Chinese winter sports stars.

He has vowed to make his own contribution to the bid by making more eggshell engravings.

Zhang Xiaoyun, a junior high school student, made a stunning 15-meter-long papercut, using animals as the protagonists to introduce the daily life in the city of Zhangjiakou.

She said the work, inspired by the masterpiece Along the River During the Qingming Festival, took her about two months.

Papercutting is quite popular in Zhangjiakou since Yuxian County, part of the city, has been famous for the art for centuries.

An eggshell engraving by Ma Gui featuring incumbent IOC President Thomas Bach Photo: Cui Meng/GT

Posted in: Feature, Olympics, Winter Sport

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