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Finland helps develop hockey in China


04-04-2017 12:00 BJT

Full coverage: President Xi Visits Finland, Meets Trump in U.S.

(Source: CGTN)

In just five short years, all eyes will once again be on China for the 2022 Winter Olympics. This time, the country has the motivation to be a hockey heavyweight. And if any country can help China quickly climb the ladder, it is Finland.

At Helsinki Market Square, people celebrate as the national team claims its second ice hockey world championship title.

Finland is one of the world's most sporting nations, especially in ice hockey, which has nearly a hundred years of history in the country.

To learn from Finland's experience in this sport, China is seeking advice from the Nordic country.

Since last year, eleven Finnish hockey players have joined Kunlun Red Star, China's lone entry in the Russia-based Kontinental Hockey League.

Founded in 2016, Kunlun Red Star will also serve as the most important talent pool for China’s hockey national team in the 2022 Beijing Olympic Winter Games.

Several Chinese players skate alongside the Swedes, Finns, Russians and Canadians on the roster.

Jari Kurri, a famous Finnish ice hockey player, hopes that with Finland’s help, the entire culture of the Chinese hockey industry will be transformed.

"Today ice hockey is a very global game. Now we have Chinese that are interested in hockey. So I think we can simply bash around the information, they need to learn about this game," Kurri said.

Last month, Red Star signed a strategic partnership with national youth teams to nurture homegrown talent.

In 2008, there were around 3-hundred hockey players at the elementary level, a number that has climbed to roughly 3-thousand in 2016 in China.

Experts say it might take years for China to become competitive in the world's highest levels, but the hockey boom is well on its way.

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