Train­ers in China try­ing to get the bal­ance right on ice

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS | FOCUS - By ZHANG XIAOMIN in Dalian, Liaon­ing and JING SHUIYU in Beijing

Gao Cheng trains young children and stu­dents about 12 hours a day seven days a week, teach­ing them the fundamentals of skat­ing and an­swer­ing ques­tions from their par­ents.

He over­sees roller-skat­ing in 27 kinder­gartens and 450 stu­dents skat­ing on ice at two pro­fes­sional rinks in Dalian, northeast China’s Liaon­ing prov­ince.

He keeps in touch with 15,000 par­ents pri­vately or in groups via WeChat.

“Can you imag­ine how much the stu­dents love skat­ing? In or­der not to let them down, I sel­dom ask for leave,” Gao told China Daily.

Gao, 32, has been en­gaged in train­ing since he re­tired from the na­tional speed skat­ing team be­cause of a knee in­jury in 2002.

“Thanks to the two pro­fes­sional rinks and China win­ning the bid to host the 2022 Win­ter Olympics, the num­ber of learn­ers in Dalian has been grow­ing rapidly in re­cent years,” he said.

But there are not enough qual­i­fied train­ers. Some par­ents are will­ing to pay a high price for train­ing their kids — one par­ent even of­fered 1,000 yuan ($145) per hour for a good trainer, he added.

“I be­lieve if we can break through the bot­tle­neck of the short­age of pro­fes­sional train­ers and rinks, ice sports will see an ex­plo­sive growth in China,” said Gao.

In Novem­ber, the Na­tional De­vel­op­ment and Re­form Com­mis­sion is­sued a 10-year plan for win­ter sports de­vel­op­ment.

The coun­try will pro­mote ice sports in var­i­ous fields such as education, in­fra­struc­ture and management sys­tems, according to the plan

By 2025, China ex­pects to have 300 mil­lion peo­ple in­volved in win­ter sports.

In or­der to cul­ti­vate train­ers as well as pre­pare for the 2022 Win­ter Olympics, Beijing Sport Univer­sity set up the School of Win­ter Sports in April 2016.

The first class, with about 40 stu­dents, began in Septem­ber.

“The cul­ti­va­tion of pro­fes­sional train­ers with both the­o­ret­i­cal and prac­ti­cal skills can­not be done in a short pe­riod of time. We must keep try­ing,” said Li Yanli, a pro­fes­sor at Beijing Sport Univer­sity.

With China’s fig­ure skat­ing pair icons Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo as teach­ing and tech­ni­cal di­rec­tors, the Cham­pion Rink, China’s first pro­fes­sional rink management in­sti­tu­tion, is achiev­ing out­stand­ing re­sults in pro­mot­ing ice sports.

A source from the Cham­pion Rink said with gov­ern­ment sup­port, more schools are co­op­er­at­ing with com­mer­cial rinks.

The Cham­pion Rink op­er­ates nearly 30 com­mer­cial rinks in a dozen cities such as Beijing, Shang­hai, Shen­zhen, and Dalian and co­op­er­ates with dozens of schools around the coun­try. The num­ber of reg­is­tered mem­bers is near the mil­lion mark.

The com­pany is ex­pected to es­tab­lish more than 100 rinks around the coun­try by 2022, said the source.

In or­der not to let them (stu­dents) down, I sel­dom ask for leave.” Gao Cheng, a for­mer na­tional skat­ing team mem­ber and now coach in Dalian, Liaon­ing num­ber of rinks Cham­pion Rink, a rink management firm, plans to have by 2022

Con­tact the writer at zhangx­i­aomin@chi­


Young­sters un­dergo an ice hockey train­ing ses­sion in Zhangji­akou, He­bei prov­ince. Win­ter sports are pop­u­lar in China as the coun­try will host the 2022 Win­ter Olympics.

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