Winter sports in China: Thrills and chills on ice and snow
Updated 21:25, 16-Jan-2019
Sun Tianyuan
People say it's never too late to learn something new, but when it comes to winter sports, Chinese parents are certainly willing to give their children every chance.
Xia Ninghong recently went to ski for the first time. Her mother took Xia to a winter carnival at the Bird's Nest Stadium on her sister's birthday, and that is when the 9-year-old fell in love with the sport.
“I think it's super fun and exciting. Coming all the way down from the top in a swoosh,” said the little skier.
The girl is a natural. After three hours going up and down the slope, she started to grasp the basic moves and even taught me a few tricks.
“Point the front tips of your skis together to brake. The wider you spread, the slower you go. And your knees stay inward too."
Children in Beijing attending winter sports /VCG Photo

Children in Beijing attending winter sports /VCG Photo

Xia's mother, Zhu Xingye, never skied in her life. She was born and raised in the warmer South, where winter sports are less popular. Yet Zhu thinks her eldest daughter could use some winter exercise.
"It's a fun winter sport that can also keep her fit and strong, so why not?” said the mother of two, “Her father and I would be happy to enroll her in classes if she likes it and wants to learn more"
However, the classes aren't cheap. A week at a skiing camp for teenagers at the Chongli or Yabuli ski resorts could put their parents back between 7,000 to 20,000 yuan (1,000 to 3,000 U.S dollars). Even with that hefty fee, there's been an absolute avalanche of applications for places.
"I always thought my daughter was a quiet kid. Then I saw her on the field. The vigor and energy she burst into, that's something I'd never seen. I guess that's the charm of skiing,” said Sun Aijun, mother of two, adding “So if she loves it, we pay for it.”
Chinese children compete in speed skating. /VCG Photo

Chinese children compete in speed skating. /VCG Photo

Sun told CGTN that the stadium gave free entry to her children – a response to the government's nationwide campaign on boosting public winter sports level ahead of 2022.
"The whole country is showing great support for promoting the winter games. As the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics gets nearer, Chinese parents are also more aware of their children's physical education. I often teach four to five students in one day,” said Shi Kai, a skiing coach at the Bird's Nest skiing field.
China is now encouraging 300 million of its people, including teenagers, to participate in winter sports. Beijing authorities alone have helped at least 140,000  students access winter sports since 2016 - even toddlers. Though they cannot have the thrills, they can always enjoy the chill.