Children prepare for a unique experience. They are dressed up for battles, with thick padded coats, helmets, and boots with protruding blades. They are here to conquer the ice.
They slip. They glide. They often fall down. But these 60 students are learning to skate, and they won't let the ice get the better of them. They, like so many others in China, are taking up winter sports out of curiosity and pride after Beijing secured the 2022 Winter Olympic bid.
The students come from a local school, called the Zhenzhuquan Primary School. The natural outdoor skating rink, created on an upstream section of the Caishi River where they train and have fun, has a total area of 1,500 square meters and thick, good quality ice. It was adopted as a base for promoting ice sports, set up by the school and supported by the district education committee and the village government in Yanqing district, Beijing.
This is the first ice arena put into use this winter in Yanqing district and is available to the general public. There are 10 more projects scheduled to be completed that will offer an ice skating experience to an estimated 3,000 people annually.
Yanqing district, northwest of Beijing, 90 kilometres away from the city center, has showed more passion and received more governmental support for ice sports since it became one of the three venues for luge, bobsleigh, and alpine skiing competitions during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.
"Ice" opportunities like what has happened in Yanqing have come along with the Winter Olympics to Beijing and Zhangjiakou in Hebei province, the other venue for the Winter Olympics, about 220 km from downtown Beijing.
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