China’s ‘father of skiing’ hopes games will attract more ordinary folks to the sport

China’s ‘father of skiing’ hopes games will attract more ordinary folks to the sport

BEIJING, Jan 14(Reuters) – Shan Zhaojian stretches his arms and legs to warm up as the 83-year-previous prepares to ski down a mountain just outdoors China’s capital of Beijing.

The bespectacled skier is technically retired, but thanks to his nickname as China’s “father of skiing”, he has been a distinguished icon in the country’s marketing campaign to motivate an interest in winter sports activities as it gears up to host the Winter season Olympics from Feb. 4-20.

Shan has grow to be a nicely-regarded advocate for the sport in the country in the many years since he was China’s very first nationwide skiing winner in 1957.

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“At that time, we experienced no such factors as ski outfits and had no strategy that there were such a issue as expert snowboarding outfits,” he reported.

Shan, who hails from China’s mountainous and wintry northeastern Jilin province, joined a specialist skiing coaching workforce in 1954 at 16. At the time, he recalled, he educated in his regular day by day garments, donning yet another layer when they got soaked.

Shan Zhaojian, 84, nicknamed China’s “father of skiing”, stretches ahead of snowboarding with buddies at the Yunju ski vacation resort in Beijing, China, December 29, 2021. Photo taken December 29, 2021 REUTERS/Thomas Peter

He designed his possess wood skis, at times trying to get assist from a friendly carpenter to assistance make improvements to them.

He retired at 24 simply because of injuries but ongoing to engage in a popular part in the activity, having up positions these kinds of as the secretary-basic of the Chinese Ski Affiliation, from which he has retired.

He has also grow to be a ski historian, with a emphasis on China’s Altay region, exactly where he states cave paintings that day again hundreds of several years suggest that snowboarding started in China fairly than Russia. The snow-included region sits in the north of the country’s considerably western Xinjiang province.

China has claimed it wishes to turn out to be a winter season sporting activities powerhouse, despite the fact that it presently trails considerably guiding the likes of Norway, Canada and the United States in phrases of Olympic medals. To day, it has received a whole of 13 gold medals since it initially despatched a crew to the Wintertime Video games in 1980.

Shan explained that his place experienced produced major strides in getting to be globally aggressive in the sport, but that his most significant desire for the forthcoming Games was not for China to win medals, but to see the levels of competition spur extra regular individuals test winter sporting activities.

“I’ve witnessed the progress of China’s snow sports for 70 decades and I know we are a newbie,” he claimed. “My hope is that the Olympics can popularise the Wintertime Video games between the Chinese individuals.”

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Reporting by Sophie Yu in Beijing and Brenda Goh in Shanghai. Modifying by Gerry Doyle

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