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Winter Sports Heat Up Across China as Beijing 2022 Olympics Approaches

INTERNATIONAL: Enthusiasm for winter sports is hitting an all-time high across China as the Beijing Winter Olympic Games draws near and local governments beef up efforts in building facilities and holding events to promote the ice and snow sports culture. North China's Hebei Province, home to Zhangjiakou, co-host city of Beijing 2022, is warming up for the coming Olympics.

The third Hebei Ice and Snow Games kicked off Sunday in the city of Baoding with nearly 5,000 players aged from seven to 60 ready to compete in 17 disciplines in seven sports. Since it was launched in 2019, the Games has seen a threefold increase in the number of participants, contributing a lot to the popularity of winter sports across the province. Hebei has so far built 202 indoor skating centers and 109 ski resorts. More than 38,000 winter sports competitions involving some 30 million residents have been held in the year of 2021.

Beijing, the first city ever to host both the Summer and Winter Olympics, launched its eighth citizens' Happy Ice and Snow Season last week. The season, lasting until April next year, will include a number of sports and cultural events for residents in a bid to spread the winter sports culture and stimulate consumption in related industries.

Following the start of the event, a ski resort in the suburban Miyun District has seen an increasing number of children coming for training and entertainment. With the approaching of the Beijing 2022, the Nanshan resort had received a record number of 400,000 visitors during the last winter season despite the COVID-19 epidemic. The Beijing municipal authorities announced Monday that the city has introduced winter sports to schools across all the 16 districts. The city's ice rinks and snow resorts have increased from 108 before it won the bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics to 211 now, Ge Jun, deputy director of the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Sports, told a press conference.

The charm of the upcoming Winter Olympics is drawing more and more young people to stadiums. At an ice rink in Yinchuan City of northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, a group of young ice hockey players were training with rapt attention under the guidance of the coach. Formed in 2015, the team currently has 12 players, with the oldest being 12 and the youngest being only seven years old.

Among them was the 11-year-old Chen Kerui, who joined the team in 2017 and participated in the National Youth Ice Hockey Invitational Tournament last year. Chen said the sports help build up both his physical strengthen and willpower. These teenagers are looking forward to showcasing themselves and winning glory for China one day through hard training.

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