Half-pipe ski team eyes Olympic glory
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.