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China, Czech Republic to cooperate on ice hockey

Reporter: Xi Jia 丨 CCTV.com

03-30-2016 12:54 BJT

Full coverage: Xi Visits Czech Republic, Attends Nuclear Security Summit

As part of the effort to promote people-to-people exchanges, Chinese President Xi Jinping has met with young ice hockey players with his Czech counterpart in Prague.

Knees bent, head up. Yan Ruinan is 15 years old. He began to play ice hockey in Qiqihar from the age of 8. 10 days ago,he came to the Czech Republic, hoping to improve his skills in ice hockey.

"Their speed is very fast and they always know what to do next. We have improved a lot during this 10 days.We have enhanced our strength, skating speed, accuracy of positioning and pass,"  Yan said.

This ice hockey training camp was set up especially for the Chinese young players by the Czech Ice Hockey Federation. Czech coaches and players give their all to help these visitors step up their game.

Czechs have a long history of playing ice hockey, winning Olympic gold in 1998, and the sport is loved almost by everyone in this country. Players here are renowned for their creativity, improvisation and adjustability on the ice.

Since Beijing won hosting rights for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, Chinese interest in learning ice hockey has increased, especially in big cities like Shanghai and Beijing.  For some, it’s just a new hobby. Others are much more serious.

"My hometown Qiqihar has held Asia League Ice Hockey and has a team called China Dragon. I will make effort to enter the China Dragon team, and if I could play even better, I want to play ice hockey in the National Hockey League," Yan said.

As ice hockey has no deep roots in China, there are few professional coaches, referees or facilities to play the game in China. Czech hockey veterans say they’re happy to share their expertise.

Ice hockey is among the most-anticipated events of the Winter Olympics. And as 2022 approaches, China will be looking to improve its home ice advantage. Competing against teams with long records of success will be tough, no doubt. But with a little help from the Czech Republic, it is hoped China’s ice hockey skills can be brought to a whole new level.

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