BEIJING, Feb. 25 (Xinhua) -- When Chinese cross-country skier Man Dandan grabbed the country's first gold medal at the Asian Winter Games in Sapporo, Japan on Feb. 20, winter sports fans nationwide were thrilled.
The prize was regarded as a breakthrough for the Chinese delegation, which used to fair better on the ice rink than on the skiing track.
Before the competition, Man had taken the first place in the ladies' sprint final at the FIS China Tour de Ski Changchun stage. As a rising star, she began to terminate the domination of Nordic countries and regions in some tough games. These years' Vasaloppet China Festivals, an annual cross-country skiing race launched in Sweden in 1922, also witnessed the rise of young athletes like Man.
"China began to learn how to improve its competitiveness in cross-country skiing events in 2003, several years before China's bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics," said Zhao Xiaolu, deputy director of Changchun sports bureau.
As we enter the second full year after Beijing was awarded the 2022 Winter Olympics, Chinese fans are noticing that many national winter sports teams have been established for the first time, such as the alpine skiing and bobsleigh & skeleton teams.
Chinese athletes also competed in all 64 events at the Sapporo Asian Winter Games, eager to test themselves in as many winter Olympic events as possible.
PREPARATION WORK FOR THE GAMES
As it prepares to host another edition of the Olympic games, Beijing's preparation work is so far going smoothly, with construction on a new airport and venues on schedule.
Construction on the new airport, located in Beijing's southern Daxing district is expected to be completed in 2019. It will have a capacity of 100 million trips per year, and will be 30 minutes' ride to downtown Beijing via subway.
Beijing is also converting the 2008 Summer Olympic venues into sites for the Winter Games in an effort to keep costs under control.
Wukesong sports center, which hosted the basketball events in 2008, will host the ice hockey events in 2022. The National Aquatics Center, also known as the Water Cube, will become the curling rink.
According to the Organizing Committee for the Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, Beijing will host three events, namely curling, ice hockey and skating, in 12 venues, including eight legacies of the 2008 Summer Games, three newly-built venues, and one temporary venue.
President Xi Jinping stressed the need for solid preparation work for the Games when presiding over a symposium this week on the subject, saying that the work should embody the spirit of green, open and shared development, along with fairness and honesty.
He also vowed zero tolerance in regards to doping and corruption, saying China "should make the Winter Olympic Games as pure and clean as snow and ice."
A HIGHER GOAL
Eyeing a successful tournament at home in 2022, China is also determined to become a winter sports powerhouse in the next decade.
The efforts are two-fold. On the one hand, China is focusing on improving its technical and tactical skills and gaining advantage in individual events. On the other hand, it aims to popularize winter sports among the general public.
In its bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics, China promised to the world that the country would attract more than 300 million people to take part in winter sports.
To achieve part of that goal, Changchun, capital of Jilin Province, has motivated one million teenagers to enjoy the city's abundant skating rinks and ski resorts during the just-ended Chinese New Year holiday.
The central government also approved a 10-year plan on developing winter sports in November, 2016, aiming to expand the scale of the winter sports industry to one trillion yuan (about 145 billion U.S. dollars).
According to a document released by the municipal government in January, Beijing will have 40 new ice rinks across the city by 2020. Among them, 16 rinks, including 11 indoor rinks, have been built in 2016. Construction of another 10 venues will be completed this year. The rest will be constructed by 2020, the document said.