Feature: People ring in Chinese New Year with sports
BEIJING, Jan. 27 (Xinhua) -- After eating dumplings on the first day of the Year of the Rabbit, Tong Shijin packed his skiing equipment, started his car and headed to a place that was quite familiar to him.
Tong is a skiing enthusiast in Hohhot, north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. After his graduation from university, he set up a skiing club, opened a skiing equipment store with his friends and became a skiing coach.
After a half-an-hour drive, Tong arrived at the Mazongshan Ski Resort. As he didn't need to offer guidance to skiing amateurs, he had enough time to enjoy skiing in the clear air and bright sunshine.
"It feels so cool. Without so many people here, now I can gambol as much as I like," Tong said.
Nowadays in China, the Spring Festival holiday is not only about reuniting with family members and visiting scenic spots, but also basking in the joy brought by sports.
Like Tong, people across the country have engaged themselves in various sports during the holiday.
In a badminton venue of the Zhengzhou Olympic Sports Center in Henan province, Jia Junling wiped the sweat off his face after finishing a game with a friend.
"We have been playing here for four days since the Lunar New Year's Eve, without missing a single day. Playing badminton and chatting with friends makes me feel happy and healthy. It's a meaningful way to celebrate the Spring Festival through sports," Jia grinned.
In many cities, sports venues are open to the public free of charge or at a low price during the Spring Festival holiday with the aim to attract more people.
In Hangzhou, host city of the 19th Asian Games set for September 23 to October 8 this year in Zhejiang province, some of the Games' venues are free or at a low cost for no less than 12 hours every day for citizens' fitness exercises, which ensures a non-stop operation of the venues during the holiday.
According to the State General Administration of Sport, thousands of national fitness activities have been organized across China during the week-long holiday, providing an accessible platform for people to enjoy the festival in a healthy lifestyle.
On the Chinese New Year's Day, artistic swimming world champions Jiang Tingting and Jiang Wenwen and several other renowned athletes led thousands of people in an 8.8-kilometer run around Lake Xinglong in the Tianfu New Area in Chengdu, capital of southwest China's Sichuan province.
"Health is the best Spring Festival gift for everyone," commented the artistic swimming duo of sisters.
Rural areas work on integrating sports with local characteristics to create tailored events for residents.
Every year in Jiangshan, east China's Zhejiang province, people usually participate in firewood lifting or fish catching competitions, which have specific local characteristics, at the village games.
It was the first time for Xu Wenjia to compete in the village games. The 23-year-old Baisha villager came to know the stacked firewood was props of the games when he saw it before lifting it eight times at a breath.
"As people in Baisha Village make their living on wood, we have organized the firewood lifting competition to remind ourselves of this tradition," said Zheng Rifu, secretary of the village's Party branch.
Ice and snow sports have offered people a way of celebrating the Spring Festival, as the legacy of the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games continues.
By October 2021, over 346 million Chinese people had participated in winter sports or related leisure activities since 2015, when Beijing won the 2022 Olympic bid, marking China's accomplishment of its aim to engage 300 million people in winter sports.
That aim remained undimmed in the first winter after the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. With their enthusiasm hugely driven by the Games, people had fun in winter sports across China during the Spring Festival holiday.
"Last year, I watched the opening ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics with family members at home, and watched Su Yiming and Gu Ailing's competitions with my friends in the hall of the ski resort," Tong recalled.
In Beijing's Jundushan Ski Resort, Chen Wanqiong soon got up after tumbling on the ski piste.
"I'm not adept at skiing as it's my only second time to ski, but it feels great to glide down from the top," said Chen.
According to deputy general manager Wang Ji, the ski resort has witnessed 80 percent of the usual visitor flow during the Spring Festival holiday, compared with 50 percent of that during the New Year holiday, and 10 to 20 percent of the year before at the start of this snow season last year.
In northeast China's Heilongjiang province, over 30,000 people visited Harbin Songhuajiang Ice and Snow Carnival every day and took part in different kinds of snow and ice recreational activities, including snowmobiles, snow bikes and curling.
Spurred by Beijing 2022, a growing number of people in China's southern provinces, where ice and snow are rarely seen, have shown their enthusiasm towards winter sports.
During the Chinese New Year holiday, people swarmed to Quanzhou County, south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, to ski in the mountains with an altitude of over 1,700 meters.
"We have brought our kids here from Liuzhou (a city in Guangxi) to experience the skiing sport. It's quite fun and thrilling," said a tourist surnamed Zou.