Chinese Hockey Development: Ovechkin visits Beijing to promote sport
Updated 17:34, 06-Aug-2019
One of the ways Beijing won the right to host the 2022 Winter Olympics was a pledge that 300 million Chinese will take up winter sports. Ice Hockey is among the sports being developed to reach this lofty goal, and the biggest league in the world, the NHL, is more than happy to help. Sportscene's Greg Laffradi has more.
Hockey is a difficult sport to grow in China because it requires the construction of facilities with ice rinks, players need expensive equipment, and many people are unfamiliar with it. But with the Beijing Winter Olympics two and half years away, it's getting plenty of support.
In its continued commitment to grow hockey in China, the NHL has sent one of the league's biggest stars to Beijing, Alex Ovechkin, captain of the Washington Capitals, 2018 Stanley Cup champion, and the only eight-time winner of the annual goal scoring title. The Russian will attend hockey clinics with kids, media tours, and business development meetings.
In addition to welcoming stars and hosting four NHL preseason games over the last two years, China is making other efforts to popularize the fastest game on ice. Bob Xu initiated and co-organized the 2019 International Collegiate Hockey tournament that involved college teams from eight different countries including traditional powerhouses USA, Russia, and Finland, along with China and others. Bob was also on the ice with Ovechkin during his first clinic at the Shougang Ice Arena.
With the help of the NHL and hockey icons such as Ovechkin and Wayne Gretzky, who is global ambassador for China's KHL team, Kunlun Red Star, hockey is certainly on the rise and with the 2022 Winter Olympics on the horizon, expect more pucks to fly. Greg Laffradi, CGTN.