image credit: olympicchannel.com
As the host country of the 2022 Olympics, China wants to harness the “host country advantage” and repeat their medals sweep from the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics. The only problem is that there is not a big winter sports tradition in China … yet. An ambitious government initiative aims to have 300 million Chinese citizens participating in winter sports by 2022, with athletes competing in all of the winter Olympic events.
As part of this long-term goal, 22 young Chinese athletes have been sent to Norway to learn how to ski jump and build a team from scratch. These athletes are switching from other disciplines such as gymnastics and speed skating in the hopes of becoming viable ski jumping competitors by 2022. The group of 15-to 20-year-olds have taken up residency in Øyer, a small town near Lillehammer, in lodging that has also been used by the Norwegian Olympic team. Since they will be training year-round for the next four years, they are also studying Norwegian and intend to get to know local culture as much as possible.
There’s a saying that Norwegians are born with skis on their feet. The 15-to 20-year-old Chinese athletes will have their work cut out for them: Not one of them had been on skis before coming to Norway. The Chinese coaches and athletes sought help from the Norwegian ski jumping federation, since Norway has won the most gold medals for ski jumping since the sport debuted at the 1924 Olympics. The goal is to produce one athlete of each gender to compete at the Olympic level in 2022 and inspire a generation of Chinese youth to take up ski jumping. Watch some of their runs and see how the coaches and athletes are using technology to communicate and train.