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Self-taught ski repairer races toward busy season

Updated: 2023-03-06 08:29 ( XINHUA )
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XINING — To the rhythmic ticking of the clock at midnight, Bao Xipeng rubbed a preheated electric iron over a waxed snowboard nimbly, with row upon row of snowboards and skis leaning against the wall behind him.

Immersed in the aroma of molten wax, the ski repairer flexed sore wrists and finally called it a day, despite another dozen snowboards still awaiting maintenance.

Starting his business in Northwest China's Qinghai province, the 33-year-old is enjoying the most bustling snow season ever and believes success is within reach after six years of hard work.

"This snow season, skiing enthusiasts packed not only pistes but also my studio," Bao quips.

The excitement for ice-and-snow sports ignited by the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics shows no signs of fading.

The ballooning winter sports industry, especially in Northwest China, brings opportunities and tangible benefits for locals and changes many people's destinies, including Bao.

"One year on, the most outstanding feature of the Games is the way they touched the lives of millions of local people by making them discover the world of winter sports," says Christophe Dubi, Olympic Games executive director of the International Olympic Committee.

However, Bao made no bones about his skiing ability — or lack thereof. "I have never learned how to ski, but I am a craft lover, man, and boy," he says, brimming with a genuine and abiding love of his craft.

Six years ago, one of his friends returned from a skiing trip to the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, one of the most popular domestic winter sports destinations for Chinese skiing enthusiasts, and left him a broken ski to repair.

"At that time, almost no one in Northwest China knew how to maintain snowboards or skis," recalls Bao. "Most of my tools were new, and it took me a whole week to complete. I didn't expect my friend to be satisfied."

Since then, like a downhill racer speeding down the piste, Bao's enthusiasm for ski maintenance and the business has been moving at speed. In 2019, Bao quit his previous job and opened Qinghai's first skiing club with a friend in Xining, the provincial capital. Over the past six years, he has repaired over 2,000 snowboards and become well-known in the skiing community in the northwest.

Pouring time and money into learning the characteristics of different skis, scenarios, and maintenance tools, the difficulty in carving out his second career did not deter him from chasing success and enjoying his work. The pursuit led to deep scars on his hands from saws and files, but more importantly, valuable experience.

"The maintenance requires intricate craftsmanship and tolerance for solitude," says Bao, with a focused gaze as he checks the smoothness of the edges and the flatness of the board.

"For top-level skiers, the quality of waxing can affect their performance significantly," he adds.

Bao says that his club's membership has increased from dozens to some 1,400, with a skiing culture being cultivated among them.

"Snow enthusiasts have been improving their skills and awareness of snowboard maintenance, which has also driven me to improve," he says.



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