Winter can be tough in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. For some people, the freezing temperatures and heavy snowfallsmean it’s just a time to be endured, but for those flocking to sports venues across the region, children 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 inDecember, Maliya Hurman, a teacher at the No 3 Middle School, was checking on students fromtwo classes whowere 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.
“Every class can cometo learn to ski about six to eight times every winter. The students love it, and almost all of them knowthe basics of skiing after just one winter,” Hurman said.
Shi Zhiqiang, the resort’smanager, said the programwillbear fruit soon.“We areplanning toteachall 18,000primary andmiddle school students inthe city to ski in twotothreeyears’ time,” hesaid.
Theregionalgovernmenthasalsoprovided funds toenable 100schools to flood their outdoorsportsgroundin winterandturnthemintoicerinks.
TheNo3 Primary School in Fukang, a city in the Changji Hui autonomousprefecture, is one of many to have received government funding to teach students to skate.
“Almost all the 1,700 students in the school knowhowto 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 SkiResort, one of the venues that will host the 2016 National WinterGames 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 LiXuejun, deputy director of the games’ organizing committee.
Children prepare for a “fur skis” contest on Jan 1 in Altay.