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Winter Olympics heat up ice-and-snow fever
Last Updated: 2022-02-06 00:51 | Xinhua
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The Beijing Winter Olympics opened on Friday. The event has prompted hundreds of millions of Chinese people to take to winter sports and related recreational activities, bringing the country in a grip of ice-and-snow fever.

Among them is an 11-month-old baby girl who became an online celebrity this winter after a video clip about her snowboarding went viral on social media. In the video, the toddler squats on a small snowboard and slides smoothly down the piste on her own, giggling and flapping her arms.

The cute snowboarder further aroused people's interests in ice and snow sports. "If such a little kid can do so well, why cannot I?" many netizens commented.

China has honored its promise to engage 300 million people in winter sports, and the nationwide passion has spilled over to the entertainment and tourism sectors. During the ongoing Spring Festival holiday, various winter-themed celebrations added to the festive atmosphere.

In the "dual Olympic city" of Beijing, where both a summer and winter Olympics were hosted, many netizens rushed out to enjoy some skating on the "natural" ice rinks -- designated areas of frozen lakes in some parks.

At the Summer Palace, a well-known scenic spot, a long queue formed in front of the booking office for the ice field on the first day of the Chinese New Year.

"What I like best is taking an ice bicycle with my friends," said a skating fan surnamed Gao. "It feels like an easy version of the bobsleigh. It's probably the simplest way to get in touch with the Winter Olympics."

The fervor for winter entertainment has even spread to areas with little snow, with the provision of relevant equipment snowballing in recent years.

As of early 2021, China had built 654 standard ice rinks across the country, up a whopping 317 percent from 2015. The country also boasts a total of 803 indoor and outdoor ski resorts.

Su Zhigang and his family, from the northwestern Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, celebrated this Chinese New Year "in the snow" by going skiing.

"Compared with the traditional celebrations, such as dining and playing mahjong, going skiing provided us with a more interesting and significant holiday," said Su.

The growing enthusiasm has brought about a winter tourism boom. Since December 2021, orders for ice-and-snow tourist services on Fliggy, an online travel platform, has maintained a weekly average growth of 46 percent.

A report released by the data center of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism predicts that this winter will see 305 million visits to ice-and-snow leisure and tourist services, with revenue expected to exceed 320 billion yuan (about 50 billion U.S. dollars).

Bai Yufei, a professor at the Beijing Sport University, said that ice-and-snow tourism has energized the tourism market during winter, a traditional off season, as well as benefitting the homestay and catering industries.

The industry around ice-and-snow activities in China is in its prime, Bai said, adding that it will become a new driver of domestic demand and add to China's interactions with the rest of the world.

(Editor:Fu Bo)

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Winter Olympics heat up ice-and-snow fever
Source:Xinhua | 2022-02-06 00:51
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