Half-pipe ski team eyes Olympic glory

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By TANG YUE in Zhang ji­akou, He­bei tangyue@chi­nadaily.com.cn

China’s half-pipe ski team, which was set up in April, has al­ready set its sights on the podium at the 2022 Win­ter Olympics on home soil.

“Ski­ing is a new sport in China and we are com­pet­ing against peo­ple who have been ski­ing for more than 15 years — since they were chil­dren. But we’ve made good progress and we’ve qual­i­fied for some World Cup events this year. We are try­ing to qual­ify for the 2018 Olympics, but our main fo­cus is Bei­jing 2022,” Mauro Nunez, head coach of China’s half-pipe ski team, said on Satur­day.

“We are try­ing to get a big team there, and will be try­ing to make the podium. China also has a long-term plan, as it will be dif­fi­cult to ad­vance so far in a short time,” said the 43-year-old, who coached Rus­sia’s na­tional team for two years be­fore the 2014 Sochi Win­ter Games, where the sport had its Olympic de­but.

Nunez, who holds Span­ishCana­dian dual na­tion­al­ity, spoke about the team’s ex­pec­ta­tions on the side­lines of the open­ing cer­e­mony of China’s first Olympic-sized half-pipe in Zhang ji­akou, He­bei prov­ince, which will co-host the 2022 Olympics with Bei­jing.

Lo­cated at the Gent­ing Re­sort Se­cret Gar­den, the half­pipe is one of only two such op­er­a­tional Olympic-sized fa­cil­i­ties at present, with the other one in Colorado in the United States, Nunez said.

Ac­cord­ing to the venue’s Win­ter Olympics plan, all ice events and Alpine ski­ing will be held in Bei­jing, while all other ski­ing events will be staged in Chongli, Zhangji­akou, 220 kilo­me­ters from the city cen­ter.

Benno Nager, the Swiss chief op­er­a­tion of­fi­cer of Gent­ing Re­sort, which will host the freestyle ski­ing, and slopestyle and half-pipe snow­board­ing events, said in­ter­na­tional, tech­ni­cal and man­age­ment ex­pe­ri­ence will en­sure the qual­ity of prepa­ra­tion work.

“The ski­ing cul­ture in China is still new. We have a to­tal of 11 for­eign­ers work­ing in var­i­ous ca­pac­i­ties. We have to bring the best peo­ple in, be­cause we have to pro­vide in­ter­na­tional qual­ity. It is not some­thing we can do half­heart­edly — it must be done to per­fec­tion,” Nager said.

“It takes years of ex­pe­ri­ences to do this. Hope­fully, over the years lead­ing up to the Olympics, we will be able to train many lo­cal staff, and when the Olympics is over, there will be enough lo­cal peo­ple trained, so they can take over the reins.”

A Cana­dian Sph­ynx, a hair­less cat worth 50,000 yuan ($7,187), sits on the shoul­der of its owner at a beauty com­pe­ti­tion for cats in Zhengzhou, He­nan prov­ince, on Satur­day. More than 200 cats par­tic­i­pated in the two-day event, ac­com­pa­nied by their own­ers.

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