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Heilongjiang is hot place for cool sports

Updated: 2022-02-24 08:44 ( China Daily )
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Children enjoy the fun of ice-skating in a park in Shuangyashan city, Heilongjiang province. LIU SHUAIYE/ASIA NEWS PHOTO

HARBIN-Xin Yi, who calls herself a "little butterfly", dreams of moving freely in the icy world like her cartoon idol, Elsa the Snow Queen from Frozen.

Born in 2017, Yi lives in Harbin, known as the "ice city" in Northeast China's Heilongjiang province. At the age of 3, she started snowboarding with her father and has been doing so ever since.

Every winter, Yi and her parents visit the Yabuli Ski Resort, about three hours' drive from Harbin. They go to an indoor venue in downtown Harbin almost daily when the weather gets warmer.

At first, it took Yi 40 minutes to finish a 3.2-kilometer slope. Now the time has been cut to 10 minutes, thanks to continuous practice.

"We are improving and growing up with each other," says Liang Weijie, Yi's mother, who also learned to snowboard from scratch.

After the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, the little girl has a role model-Gu Ailing, who has won two gold medals and a silver in the Games for China.

Heilongjiang, the northernmost province of China, with long winters and abundant snow, has pioneered the country in ice and snow sports development. The first National Ice Sports Games took place in Harbin in 1953, which created the first batch of speedskating records in China.

Before the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, Chinese athletes had won 13 gold medals in previous Winter Games. Nine of these went to athletes from Heilongjiang or trained in the province. Young athletes are determined to carry on with the glory.

Fu Liangyu, born in 2005 in Daqing, Heilongjiang, is one of the youngest skiers in the Heilongjiang snow sports training center. He won second place in the youth-group freestyle ski cross at the provincial sports games in January.

Instead of reuniting with his family during the past Spring Festival, Fu chose to stay at the center for regular training. Having watched the 2022 Beijing Winter Games with his teammates, the young man has set the goal of becoming an Olympic champion.

As of October 2021, over 346 million people had participated in ice and snow sports after the country's successful bid in 2015 to host the Winter Olympics in 2022, according to a survey conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics.



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