Freez­ing, but­fun

China Daily (Canada) - - XINJIANG -

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.

ZHAO GE / XIN­HUA

Chil­dren pre­pare for a “fur skis” con­test on Jan 1 in Al­tay.

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