Domestic production makes winter sports less elitist in China
Global Times

Caption: Elementary school students practice curling at Zhangjiakou Ice and Snow Sports Equipment Industrial Park on February 17. Photo: Zhang Hui/GT

Elementary school students practice curling at Zhangjiakou Ice and Snow Sports Equipment Industrial Park on February 17.(Photo: GT)

The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics is drawing to a close, but winter sports in China are reaching more people with more diversified sports as domestic production and research from Chinese sports gear companies lowers the cost of sports facilities, equipment and gear.

Starting a winter sport may cost at least $1,000 for Western countries with a long history of ice and snow sports, and it costs a lot more for Chinese people when many of the equipment or gear was imported. But with growing national enthusiasm in winter sports, China has developed its own winter sports equipment and gear with local materials.

At the training center of Zhangjiakou Ice and Snow Sports Equipment Industrial Park, the co-host city for the Beijing 2022, local elementary school students recently started to receive weekly training for skating, curling, ice hockey and skiing on simulators.

Wang Ye, a 12-year-old curler, was among them. Wang told the Global Times on Thursday that it was his first time practicing curling although on a specially made ice-like sheet, and he knew nothing about the sport before Beijing 2022.

"I fell in love with curling almost immediately after I tried it today, and it was so much fun. I want to practice more after my new term begins," Wang said excitingly while wiping sweat. Several other curlers on his team were also on their first try on Thursday.

Bai Jianhai, an employee at the industrial park, said that a set of curling equipment including stones, ice sheets and brushes imported from the UK costs 180,000 yuan ($28,458), but Chinese curling companies in the park lowered the cost to 8,000 to 12,000 yuan.

The stones we use were made of granite of Zhangjiakou, and the sheet is made of liquid synthetic ice which is easier and cheaper to maintain, offers a natural ice feel and is environmental friendly, Bai said, noting that curling is more applicable to ordinary residents.

The park has signed more than 30 companies into ski clothes, boots and goggles, helmets, snowboard, ski poles, snow-making machines and snow pressing vehicles.

The park is still under construction, and will cover 247,000 square meters, with a total investment of 1.14 billion yuan, according to the website of the park.

Bai told the Global Times that Chinese equipment companies for ice hockey are also researching on new gear for children that is cheaper, lighter but still can offer enough protection.

"Domestic production will make more people try winter sports," he said.