Freezing, but fun

Updated: 2016-01-08 14:21

By Cui Jia(China Daily USA)

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Winter can be tough in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. For some people, the freezing temperatures and heavy snowfalls mean it's just a time to be endured, but for those flocking to sports venues across the region, child-ren especially, winter isn't long enough.

In Altay, in the north of the region, primary and middle school students have been taking skiing lessons as part of their winter physical education classes for the past three years.

On a sunny afternoon in December, Maliya Hurman, a teacher at the No 3 Middle School, was checking on students from two classes who were learning to ski at the Jiangjun Mountain Ski Resort, 15 minutes' drive from the city center.

The lessons have been made possible by the convenient location and a local government initiative to promote winter sports.

Freezing, but fun

"Every class can come to learn to ski about six to eight times every winter. The students love it, and almost all of them know the basics of skiing after just one winter," Hurman said.

Shi Zhiqiang, the resort's manager, said the program will bear fruit soon. "We are planning to teach all 18,000 primary and middle school students in the city to ski in two to three years' time," he said.

The regional government has also provided funds to enable 100 schools to flood their outdoor sports ground in winter and turn them into ice rinks.

The No 3 Primary School in Fukang, a city in the Changji Hui autonomous prefecture, is one of many to have received government funding to teach students to skate.

"Almost all the 1,700 students in the school know how to roller skate and ice skate. Our roller skating field can be transformed into an ice rink during winter, an old tradition in Xinjiang's schools," Duan Yongde, the principal, said.

This year, the school is organizing skiing lessons for students at the Tianshan and Tianchi Ski Resort, one of the venues that will host the 2016 National Winter Games later this month.

Soon, 400 more schools in Xinjiang will receive government funding to promote ice skating and 100 schools will soon receive funding for snow-based sports, said Li Xuejun, deputy director of the games' organizing committee.