URUMQI, China, Feb. 12 (Xinhua) — After several attempts, 10-year-old Wang Jiangrong finally managed to make a smooth backside turn on her snowboard at the end of her fourth lesson in Urumqi, capital of northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
With the winter break coming earlier this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Wang chose to head for the snow-capped slopes on Tianshan Mountain, where the legendary Bogda Peak can be seen. Here, the little girl signed up for a five-day boot camp for rookies like her.
“To build up my body, my mom recommended the snowboarding course, which sounds pretty cool”, said Wang. “I was afraid at the beginning, but now I can slide down the intermediate ski piste. The course is not easy, but it’s fun.”
The lessons, which last around seven hours per day, are intensive for beginners, but surely paid off for Wang and her fellow classmates.
“After four lessons, they all mastered the basic skills such as stopping and turning,” said Xu Xiujuan, a former national skiing team athlete who is now chief instructor at Urumqi’s Baiyun Ski Resort, a one-hour drive from the city center.
Ahead of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, winter sports have become popular with young people in Xinjiang, many of whom are trying on new gear and taking up courses during the winter vacation.
“The number of children enrolled in the winter sports camp has doubled over the past two years, and we have 200 children this vacation,” said Che Yuchun, manager of Happy Camping, a local outdoor education institution.
In recent years, upgraded facilities have turned more teens onto winter sports, making local resorts popular during the holiday season.
“We now welcome around 200 children a day, much more than last season. We also have more families coming here,” said Baiyun Ski Resort manager Liu Yanan.
As a relative newcomer to the scene, Xinjiang is now showcasing its potential as a winter sports hub. Blessed with favorable natural conditions, especially abundant snowfall and moderate temperatures, the industry is now gaining new momentum with the upcoming Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
Thanks to local government support, more high-caliber practitioners like Xu Xiujuan have come into Xinjiang in a bid to promote winter sports.
“I have witnessed the rise of winter sports here and wish to make more people feel the passion of ice and snow with professional instruction,” said Xu, who gives free snowboarding classes every weekend.
“Considering the current trend, we are confident in the emerging winter sports market in Xinjiang”, said Liu. Enditem