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Lucky primary students get their skates on

By XIE CHUANJIAO in Qingdao, Shandong | (China Daily) | 2022-01-24

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Students receive ice hockey training at the Jilong Road Primary School in Qingdao, Shandong province. [Photo by Kuang Zongheng/for China Daily]

Select handful of schools in Qingdao have heavily invested in winter sports to encourage interest in Olympic Games

Qu Yifan is a 10-year-old figure skater from Qingdao, Shandong province. She started figure skating when she was 5 and has done well in a number of competitions in the last three years.

Her father Qu Zhiyong, said he believes children today have greater opportunities to participate in winter sports and that they seem to enjoy them very much.

"Ice rinks were rare when my daughter began skating. But now, even schools have artificial rinks," he said, adding that the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games has ignited the city's enthusiasm for winter sports.

Qu Yifan is also looking forward to the upcoming Games and said that she expects wonderful performances from athletes from across the world.

"I hope that one day I can join Team China and take part in the Olympics," she said.

Many young people in Qingdao have become zealous winter sports fans thanks to efforts made by the city's educators to boost winter sports and Olympic culture in schools in recent years.

The Qingdao Jilong Road Primary School in Shinan district arranges one-hour skating lessons every week for its second- and third-grade students. The lessons, in which students receive in-person professional guidance from national-level athletes at the school's first-class facilities, are open to 18 classes.

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Students at the school watch a classmate curling. [Photo by Kuang Zongheng/for China Daily]

In addition, the school has developed online courses to improve skating skills.

Sun Ruowen is one of the national athletes who has been invited to teach hockey at the school.

The 21-year-old was surprised that a primary school had built such a high-performance ice rink indoors in such a short time.

"Previously, I taught hockey outdoors. This is the first time I'm teaching indoors," said Sun, who started ice hockey when he was 10.

Now a national-level athlete, he has done well in several national competitions, as well as in the North American Hockey League, one of the top junior leagues in the United States, and in the Junior Hockey League in Russia. He now plays for a hockey team in Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang province.

Sun recalled that he only trained at commercial rinks after school and that there were few training sessions, which complicated his later development. "If I had trained in the kind of facilities that exist nowadays, my professional career might have gone further," he said.

The school has also hosted events to teach students basic knowledge of winter sports and the Winter Olympics. For example, it held a quiz to promote Olympic culture among the students on topics like the emblems, mascots, medals and competitions of the Beijing Winter Olympic Games.

Teachers also encourage students to draw pictures or write stories about winter sports and Olympic athletes in the hopes that "they unleash their imaginations and show what winter sports look like in their minds, as well as extend their best wishes to the Olympic Games", said Wu Dehui, the school's vice-principal.

Teachers from another school-the Qingdao Ningxia Road Primary School-spent four years compiling a textbook about winter sports and continue working to improve it.

Yan Yonghong, the school's principal, said the textbook has been tailored to different ages and to the school's facilities.

Currently, schools in Shinan district run a variety of winter sports courses ranging from ice hockey to curling and figure skating and have started teams to participate in competitions.

The district has also set up Qingdao's first school-level skating society and figure skating team. Two schools are listed as national-level schools known for their youth winter sports programs.

Sun Li, deputy director of Shinan's Education and Sports Bureau, said figure skating competitions held at primary and middle schools have become branded events that are enjoying rising popularity in Qingdao.

"We hope young students are able to enjoy themselves and strengthen their bodies while engaging in winter sports," she said.