In spite of being a city lacking in natural snow, Shanghai is stepping up its efforts to become a winter sports hub as China gears up for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics next February.
The Shanghai stop of the FIS Cross-Country Skiing China City Tour ended last weekend, winning praise from athletes and coaches.
The organizers adopted cutting edge snow-making technology for the event and laid a 300-meter FIS standard cross-country ski track along the Huangpu River in Yangpu District.
Zhang Bei, leader of China's national cross-country skiing team, highly praised the competition environment.
"Cross-country skiing events used to be held in mountainous areas covered with forest," said Zhang. "To compete in a metropolis like Shanghai is just like a fairy tale. On the waterfront of the Huangpu River, the combination of skiing and scenery is just unbelievable."
Chinese skiier Chi Chunxue, who has qualified for the Winter Olympics, was also excited to compete by the riverside.
"It is the first time for Shanghai to hold a ski event. I am proud to be part of the first batch of participants," she said.
According to the 14th Five-Year Plan for Shanghai's sports development, the city will play a key role in promoting winter sports in southern and eastern China.
In addition to professional competitions, the city expects winter sports to flourish at grassroots level.
In December 2018, Shanghai launched winter sports projects on school campuses. There are now 40 Winter Olympic model schools and 73 schools with a winter sports focus in Shanghai.
Shanghai Jiading No.1 High School introduced ice hockey in 2019 and built a 200 square-meter rink in September 2020.
"Compared with other sports, ice hockey is more interesting and fresh to me, so I chose to learn it without any hesitation," said Li Yifei, a student from Shanghai Jiading No.1 High School.
Shanghai Huangpu Luwan No.1 Central Primary School cooperated with professional stadiums to offer students winter sports courses including skating, curling and snowboarding.
According to the Shanghai Sports Bureau, as of October 2021, Shanghai has a total of 13 ice rinks, 34 indoor ski resorts and three curling venues, with various winter sports fields across 13 districts.
"To better meet the demands of citizens, Shanghai will continue to upgrade ice and snow venues and facilitate citizens' participation in winter sports, " said Yan Jiadong, chairman of the Shanghai Ice & Snow Sports Association.