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[China-sports]Snow not a problem for Beijing to host 2022 Winter Games - Sports[Page:1]
Lack of natural snow were considered as a challenge for the Beijing 2022 bid. But the climate conditions in Zhangjiakou's Chongli county, where cross country, freestyle and other skiing events will be held if Beijing wins the bid, won't be a concern, experts say.
Chairman Wei Qinghua of China Mountain Development co. Ltd, has spent the past 13 years participating in the design, planning, construction and operation of both Wanlong and Genting Ski Resorts in Chongli. He described the typical winter as such: "The average temperature during our 150-day skiing season is -12 degrees centigrade, with level 2 wind speed. Normally, each winter we see one small snowfall every three days, one medium-sized snowfall every 10 days, and one large snowfall each month."
Beyond Chongli's sufficient natural snowfall, the experts said its cold winters and solid ground also provide for ideal snowmaking conditions.
Mojca Ogris Schimberg, deputy general manager of internationally renowned snowmaking specialist company Demaclenko, explained how artificial snow is preferred by the International Ski Federation (FIS), saying "no matter how many meters of natural snow you see in an area, events such as freestyle skiing require and work best on tightly packed snow on hard ground."
Furthermore, one thing she wanted to "make perfectly clear" is that "in regards to the preparation of Winter Olympics courses, the climate in Zhangjiakou is very, very good. First off, you have dry air, which is excellent for snowmaking; Secondly, a cold winter is also very necessary for making snow."
Regarding whether hosting the Games would put pressure on water supplies, both Wei and Schimberg agreed that there is "absolutely no problem" with the venue clusters' water supplies for snowmaking.
Aside from natural conditions being ideal for Winter Olympics events, Chongli has become an increasingly popular location for both professional skiing teams looking to train, as well as skiing hobbyists from all over the world.
Song Zhiyong, deputy general manager of Genting Ski Resort, says his resort's popularity is drawing more than tourists: "Back in 2004, I saw around 50 professional skiers from South Korea and Japan using Chongli's ski resorts as training grounds. But these days the number is closer to 600. These numbers show that Chongli is an attraction to not just causal lovers of skiing, but those who require grade-A international standard slopes."
Kim Taesoon, Vice President of the Korean Ski Association, has been sending South Korean skiers to train in Chongli since 2003. "Normally, we used to send our skiers to Europe to train, as we have always found it difficult to find training locations with snowfall greater than 40cm in our own country, but since Chongli began hosting FIS competitions in 2005, more and more Korean skiers head there each year to train for international skiing events," said Kim.
Wakatsuki Hitoshi of the Japanese Ski Association was one of the first to conduct FIS competitions in Chongli, and sends his skiers there each year due to its cost-efficient location with "very hard slopes and ground" that also appealed to the Japanese pro skiers.
Ante Simonic, the former Vice Premier of Croatia, who also served as the Croatian ambassador to China from 2008 to 2013, is an avid skier that has fallen in love with Chongli's slopes since he first started skiing on them in 2008.
"With Beijing's outstanding organizational skills and Chongli's quite fantastic natural conditions, I am confident that Beijing 2022 would make an enormous contribution to the global Olympic Movement. After all, an enormous market of 1.3 billion Chinese would serve as a tremendous driving force for the global winter sports market," he said.
Beijing, seeking to become the first city to host both summer and winter games, faces the only competition from Almaty, Kazakhstan. The International Olympic Committee will select the host city on July 31 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
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