In this scorching summer, ice rinks have become a hotspot for many Chinese people, riding the wave of the success of the Beijing Winter Olympics.
By Sportswriter He Leijing
NANJING, China, Aug. 10 (Xinhua) -- Pedestrians are hardly anywhere to be seen as the sweltering summer afternoon wears on in east China's Jiangsu Province, but many swarm inside ice rinks - not just for beating the heat, but also out of their love of winter sports.
"The dog days of summer won't stop us from engaging in sports," said Gao Yimin, who is on his annual vacation to have fun skating and playing ice hockey at a sports center.
Like Gao, more and more Chinese people are turning to winter sports this summer, riding the wave of the success of the Beijing Winter Olympics.
For basketball fan Liu Zhijie, who lives in Suzhou City, the roasting weather has made him turn to indoor activities and sparked his interest in ice hockey.
"I watched the Beijing Winter Olympics earlier this year and thought maybe someday I could try ice hockey, and now is the perfect time," he said.
As of last October, around 346 million people in China have participated in winter sports since the country's successful bidding of the Winter Games. Thanks to high-tech facilities such as portable artificial ice rinks, artificial intelligence skiing simulators, and dry-land roller ski training methods, winter sports have also reached China's southern provinces, where snow and ice are rarely seen.
"The weather is scorching, so I've signed up for an indoor skating course," said Wang Tao, a middle school student in Nanjing, where the mercury is set to reach a record-breaking temperature of 42 degrees Celsius in the coming days.
"I love playing sports, so I can't let the hot weather spoil my summer vacation," Wang added, noting that ice-cool rinks have also become a summer resort for many people like him. "The ice rink refreshes you like having an ice cream."
"The room temperature of ice rinks is around 15 degrees Celsius. It can definitely keep you cool in summer," said Yuan Jun, manager of an ice sports club in Nanjing.
"And it's pretty cool to master some ice and snow sports," Yuan said, adding that the number of people coming to his club this summer has increased a lot compared to previous years. The club now sees over 600 customers at weekends.
In Beijing, the renovated Capital Indoor Stadium for short track speed skating and figure skating events at the Beijing Olympic Winter Games has officially opened to the public, attracting many citizens to participate in ice sports.
Local authorities in Nanjing have released a slew of policies, including handing out vouchers for sports activities worth 10 million RMB (1.48 million U.S. dollars) this year to boost sports consumption.
"The unparalleled passion generated from the Winter Olympics looms large, making it trendy to take up ice and snow sports," said Zhu Chengxing, head of the Jiangsu Ice and Snow Sports Association, adding that the eastern province has now built 48 ice and snow facilities, with a total area of 630,000 square meters.
"We are determined to make the winter sports more popular here, especially among teenagers, through hosting more events and developing more ice and snow projects," Zhu said.