Beijing bid promotes life on the ice

Updated: 2014-11-03 07:24

By Sun Xiaochen(China Daily)

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Parental sacrifices and dedication key to success in the junior leagues

Kang Ping saw a skating rink for the first time in 2001. The Sichuan native was fascinated by the elegance of the youthful skaters and the smiles that spread across their faces as they rocketed across the ice at Beijing's China World Mall.

She quickly made a decision. "Growing up in the warmth of South China, I had never seen a real rink or had the opportunity to play with ice and snow. Children born in North China are so lucky to be able to play on the ice in winter, and I decided I wanted my children to have the same chance," said Kang, who arrived in Beijing in 1990 as a student.

Her wish came true. She now has two lively sons, and both of them play hockey.

Kang brought her elder son, He Shuyang, 10, to a rink for the first time when he was just 4, hoping that the full-contact sport would hone the boy's strength and toughen him up.

He quickly fell in love with the game, so Kang introduced her younger son, He Shuhang, to the rink at an even earlier age. In fact, she says she almost brought him up on the ice.

"Once people are involved with the sport, both the children and parents can't help but become obsessed by it. Our children have grown a lot, both physically and mentally, through playing hockey, and we enjoy watching them grow," she said.

To fully support her sons, who play for the Tsinghua University Primary School team in the Beijing interschool league, Kang quit her job to become a full-time driver and practice partner. Several of her hockey mom peers have done the same.

Driving her children to rinks five times a week, helping them with their equipment and taking videos, has become an enjoyable routine, according to the 41-year-old.

"You really have to prepare yourself to sacrifice your career, but seeing them grow and learning the virtues of teamwork and dedication through exercise is pretty rewarding," she said.

Although the popularity of winter sports is rising in China, hockey remains a relatively expensive hobby. A 90-minute session at one of Beijing's commercial rinks costs from 200 yuan ($33) to 300 yuan, and a full outfit for a junior player costs at least 20,000 yuan.

Junior ice hockey players train at least three times per week and upgrade their entire set of gear every two years as they grow, said Liu Ge, deputy-president of the Beijing Ice Hockey Association.

Wen Quan, the father of a student player, spends at least 200,000 yuan, including travel and accommodation for trips, on his son's hobby every year. "It's really a large amount of money for the average family, but the benefits our son gains make it a worthwhile investment," he said.

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