With the opening of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics only 30 days away, the successful bid for the Olympic Winter Games and the continuous construction of high-speed rail have become a double acceleration engine for the ice and snow industry in China.
Dai Yutong, a skiing enthusiast from northeast China's Jilin Province, still likes to talk about two big events that happened in 2015 -- Beijing won the bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics and his hometown's first railway station, Hunchun high-speed railway station, opened to the public.
"It brought us closer to the ski resorts, which gave me more reasons to ski," said Dai, who lived in Hunchun, Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture of Jilin Province, a northeast border county with a population of more than 200,000.
Seven years later, Dai and his ski crazy friends were surprised again -- on December 24, 2021, the section between Dunhua and Baihe of the Shenyang-Jiamusi High-speed railway was put into operation.
With the Fuxing bullet train winding through the snowy forest, it only takes 2 hours and 18 minutes to travel from Changchun to the newly-built Changbaishan station.
It will connect ski resorts around Changbai Mountain with 19 cities along the route and the resorts are expected to receive tens of millions of tourists per year, said Geng Deyong, director of Culture, Sports and Tourism Bureau of the Changbai Mountain Protection Development Management Committee.
"By train I can now visit those cities and the ski destinations in Jilin easily," said Song Ran, who arrived at Changbaishan for skiing from Beijing, adding that those days of trekking from the county to ski resorts were gone.
With winning the bid to host the Winter Olympics and the continuous construction of high-speed rail, ice and snow sports lovers are much closer to the ski resorts, said Dai.
Statistics show that by the end of 2020, China's high-speed rail has covered nearly 95% of the cities with a population of over one million, with an operating mileage of about 38,000 kilometers, nearly double that of 19,800km at the end of 2015.
In line with engaging 300 million people in ice and snow sports in China, the number of ski resorts increased from 500 in 2015 to 700 in 2020, and the number of skiers increased from 12.5 million to 20 million.
In recent years, China's local governments have taken the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics as an opportunity to continuously optimize their industrial structure and promote ice and snow tourism, culture, equipment manufacturing, economy, and trade.
"It is less than 300 kilometers from downtown Beijing to Zhangjiakou's Chongli. When I helped Chongli plan its first ski resort in 1995, it took me up to 7 hours to drive there along the highway. Now it is far more convenient to go skiing by high-speed train and come back within one day," said Shan Zhaojian, an 83-year-old pro skier.
He believed that the combination of the Winter Olympics and high-speed rail has not only brought convenience to people's travel but also has positive impacts on the economy, people's livelihood and environmental protection.
One week before the opening of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, the Beijing-Tianjin Intercity Railway, as a key supporting project of the Olympic Games, had been completed.
In 2019, the high-speed railway linking Beijing and Zhangjiakou became the world's first intelligent high-speed train with a speed of 350 kilometers per hour.
With the operation of the Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed railway, it only takes 50 minutes to travel between Beijing, Yanqing and Zhangjiakou.
According to Sha Miao, deputy general manager and chief engineer of CRRC Changchun Railway Vehicles Co., Ltd., these trains not only have intelligent attributes such as the automatic departure of stations, automatic operation of intervals and automatic opening of doors but also support the functions of watching live events, wireless charging, intelligent light adjustment. The trains are also equipped with a ski equipment storage area, doping sample storage place and barrier-free facilities.
"The Winter Olympics connect the world, and high-speed rail makes it easy. Now there are only 30 days away to the opening of the Beijing Winter Olympics, we will do our best to maintain the Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed railway and further accelerate the development of China's ice and snow industry," Sha said. ■