BEIJING is the only city to have been chosen for two Olympic Games.
The Chinese capital caught the world’s limelight when it hosted the Summer Games in 2008, and now, it is prepared to enthrall global audiences at the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in 2022.
The Winter Olympics will be held from Feb 4 to Feb 20,2022. The Paralympics will take place between March 4 and March 13.
Events of the Winter Games include ice hockey, figure skating, alpine skating, curling, snowboarding and biathlon.
One might think of Europe when it comes to skiing but many are unaware Beijing has a long list of ski resorts located in its suburban mountainous districts, with the nearest one situated less than 30km from the city centre.
Apart from the sporting facilities that include the eye-catching Bird’s Nest national stadium and Water Cube aquatic centre in the city, the Yanqing district of Beijing and Zhangjiakou city of Hebei province were shortlisted as venues for the global competition.
Yanqing is located in the northwestern region of Beijing, about 70km from the city centre. This is where the famous Badaling stretch of the Great Wall is located.
A total of 20 categories in three sporting events will be held here.
Zhangjiakou, about 180km from Beijing, is where China’s skiing industry began some 20 years
With an average temperature of 6°C, this place is a popular destination for tourists from neighbouring countries, especially during winter, to enjoy snow-related activities or to just spend their leisure time.
The Genting Group runs a ski resort here, too, namely the Genting Resort Secret Garden, and it has been picked as one of the venues for snowboarding and freestyle skiing at the 2022 Winter Olympics.
By the end of this year, the Beijing-Zhangjiakou high speed railway is expected to operate, providing easier access for visitors.
The journey will take about 50 minutes.
Beijing has set a high benchmark for all host countries after its success in hosting the Summer Games, stunning the world with a spectacular opening ceremony.
The country also topped the medal table in the games.
And now, it is ready to win another “wow”.
People are excited and the city even held a celebration to kick start the countdown from 1,000 days.
Ski resorts have multiplied since the city won its bid to host the Winter Olympics 2022, which was announced in Kuala Lumpur in 2015 at the 128th International Olympic Committee session.
The number of people taking up skiing as their leisure activity has also increased yearly.
According to the statistics provided by the Zhangjiakou government, some 774,000 people went skiing in the district during the 2016/2017 winter season.
The figure jumped to 857,000 people the following winter season, followed by 1.06 million last winter.
Skiing revenue in the district has also increased from 540 million yuan (RM320mil) in 2016/2017 to 690 million yuan (RM409mil) in 2018/2019.
Apart from this, a total of 62 ice and snow-related sporting schools have been set up in Zhangjiakou, providing free lessons to teenagers below 16.
This is China’s effort to groom talent in the field in order to achieve its goal of seeing 300 million people taking part in the winter sports.
Skiing in Beijing usually starts in mid-November and lasts till February the following year, depending on the weather.
All skiing resorts will have their coaches to guide new skiers, as well as the full gear for rent.
A beginner usually takes about two to three hours of practice to be able to start their first slide from a lower hill specially designed for new learners.
The entrance fee is between 80 yuan (RM50) and 300 yuan (RM180) per person for a four-hour session, excluding equipment rental costs.
China made their first appearance at the Winter Games in 1980.
A total of 28 athletes were sent to take part in 18 events in skating, skiing and biathlon, but their performance was below par.
Twelve years later, China bagged three silver medals at the games held at Albertville, France.
After another 10 years of hard work, Chinese short-track speed skater Yang Yang finally made the country proud by bringing back its first gold medal at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games at Salt Lake City in the United States.
The Chinese team pocketed two gold, two silver and four bronze medals that year.
Before my posting in Beijing, ice and snow seemed like a distant possibility.
I watched the Winter Games for the first time two years ago when the competition in South Korea’s Pyeongchang was aired over Chinese television.
It was as fun as watching the Summer Games.
So mark your calendar – the 2022 Beijing Winter Games is coming your way.
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