Chinese Olympic Skiers Can Train Close To Home At New Indoor Winter Sports Resort
It was a hot summer afternoon in Harbin, China, but it was "perfect weather for skiing," according to the AFP. At the city’s new winter sports park, "chilly winds blew snowflakes around skiers zipping down the man-made slopes of the world’s largest indoor ski park, a potent symbol of China’s ambitions to turn itself into a winter sports powerhouse" ahead of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. The 80,000-square-meter facility "boasts six runs, the longest stretching 500 meters." Olympic aspirants from China used to spend their summers training in New Zealand, but the opening of Dalian Wanda Group’s indoor ski park this summer "means they can now stay closer to home." Not long ago, skiing was "considered a luxury activity in China, inaccessible to the average person." The country is currently home to "roughly" 6 million skiers, but President Xi Jinping "hopes that number will rise to 300 million in the coming years." There are currently "about 200 ski resorts in China." Chinese officials are "aiming to increase that number fivefold" by '30. Wanda Harbin Indoor Ski and Winter Sports Resort GM Yi Li said, "We didn't have anywhere to ski when I was growing up." The slopes are equipped with a chairlift, a sledding area and a bunny hill, "not to mention a ski lodge bedecked with faux wood." For average visitors, the cost to ski for an entire day, including all rental equipment, is 488 yuan ($74). The most popular package is a three-hour visit at 300 yuan ($45) (AFP, 9/18).