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Teenagers play in the 3rd Ice and Snow Culture Tourism Festival in the Toutun River Valley Forest Park in Urumqi City,<strong>888 slot</strong> Xinjiang on December 19, 2023. Photo: Qian Jiayin/GT

Teenagers play in the 3rd Ice and Snow Culture Tourism Festival in the Toutun River Valley Forest Park in Urumqi City, Xinjiang on December 19, 2023. Photo: Qian Jiayin/GT


The students training in speed skating at the 103rd Regiment School in Wujiaqu City, Xinjiang, on December 20, 2023. Photo: Qian Jiayin/GT

The students training in speed skating at the 103rd Regiment School in Wujiaqu City, Xinjiang, on December 20, 2023. Photo: Qian Jiayin/GT


If people have to use only a few words to describe winter in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, most people would think of silver-clad landscapes, biting cold winds, and silent mountains. But winter is the high season for tourism in Xinjiang.

The Global Times reporters recently visited various places in Xinjiang and witnessed the enthusiasm of young people participating in winter sports, even at temperatures as low as -22C.

Time for celebration

Sleds, snow go-karts, and snow trains are part of the amusement facilities in the winter camp held in the Toutun River Valley Forest Park in Urumqi City, Xinjiang. This winter camp is part of the 3rd Ice and Snow Culture Tourism Festival, and it attracted nearly a hundred students on the first day. 

"Although it's cold, it's fun to come here. Participating in activities can also earn one gift," several students from a local primary school told the Global Times. The winter camp has a total of eight projects, with the most popular among students being the snow slide. Students line up, each with a snow tube, waiting to experience the excitement and joy of flying down from the top. Although the winter camp area is covered with thick snow and immersed in the merciless winter cold, young people have brought heaps of enthusiasm to the Ice and Snow Culture Tourism Festival.

According to the introduction, this Ice and Snow Culture Tourism Festival will integrate elements of traditional culture, intangible cultural heritage, the culture of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC), and food culture to launch various themed cultural and tourism-oriented activities such as the Spring Festival Cultural Temple Fair, New Year's Goods Fair, and the Food Culture Exchange Expo. 

Ma Jing, the deputy director of the Culture and Tourism Bureau of the 12th Division of the XPCC, told the Global Times that the Ice and Snow Culture Tourism Festival drove a consumption of over 64.386 million yuan ($9 million) last year. At the same time, the Ice and Snow Culture Tourism Festival allows residents to enjoy a high-level ice and snow cultural feast right at their doorstep.

Football on snow

The long winter in Xinjiang brings unique advantages for the development of ice and snow sports. 

In addition to winter sports for the general public, schools in Xinjiang also offer sports programs with their own characteristics. At the Toutun River Farm School, ice-snow football is a tradition. Ding Yafang, head of the school, told the Global Times that at their school, ice-snow football has a history almost as long as the school itself. 

Now, every class has a football team. "In big cities, ice-snow football is an emerging sport. However, in this school, ice-snow football is a tradition." At the Toutun River Farm School, students start playing ice football in the first and second grades. Wang Weixin, a fourth-grade student, told the Global Times that he has been playing football for three years. Playing football on the snow is no different from playing on a green field, and the cold weather can better train the body and mind of players. "I don't feel cold when I run," Wang said.

"Come on! Come on! Come on!" Amidst the cheers, the students held a match on the snow field under the guidance of their PE teacher, Li Deyong. Li told the reporters that ice football is played with five players, which is the biggest difference from regular football matches. 

This is his 10th year as a teacher, and this year he will also take the students to participate in snow football matches. Due to the extremely cold weather, there are many difficulties to overcome in training, but the students' enthusiasm can beat the cold.

In winter, school playgrounds in Xinjiang not only transform into "snowy green fields" but also become speed skating venues. At the 103rd Regiment School in Wujiaqu City, the students experience speed and excitement. Che Xueqin, the captain of the school's speed skating team, told the Global Times reporters that she hopes to become a professional speed skater and have the opportunity to stand on the podium at the Olympics. The school does not have a dedicated speed skating rink, and there is not even an ice-making machine. The current track is manually built by the school's teachers, who pull carts of water. Despite the harsh conditions, the students' enthusiasm for training is high. During the interview, the young team members told reporters that when they see opponents surpassing them from behind, it ignites their fighting spirit, and everyone wants to stand on the highest podium.

"Lower your body, dig your toes in!" When the reporters stepped onto the ice rink, speed skating coach Ye Yongjiang was teaching lower-grade students. Ye told reporters that 40 years ago, he was also a member of the school's speed skating team, and he became a coach after graduating from sports school. Now, he has trained over 100 speed skaters. Here, there is no threshold for learning speed skating, and any interested student can participate. The youngest athlete the reporter saw that day was in the first grade. Generation after generation of students enter the campus and step onto the competition field, their yearning for speed and passion for ice and snow sports unchanged.
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