China's ice and snow sports industry has been growing at an unprecedented pace in recent years, with the sector's scale expected to hit 1 trillion yuan (6 billion) by 2025. Thanks to the fact that Beijing is going to host the 2022 Winter Olympic Games and support from domestic industry policies, capital is flowing into the sector as many companies and institutions invest in ice-and-snow-related projects. But experts say that China is not yet on the top level in terms of winter sports and that the sector still faces many challenges, such as a lack of qualified coaches and snow sports management as well as lack of knowledge on how to popularize snow sports to attract more consumers. China's booming ice and snow sector is also bringing opportunities to foreign firms that are seeking growth in the country's winter sports market.
On a cold and foggy Saturday afternoon, Yang Lin, a 16-year-old high school student living in Beijing, steps onto an ice rink in Chaoyang district as usual.
She quickly puts on her skates and knee pads and freely skates around the rink. With guidance from a coach by her side, Yang starts to learn how to make turns on the ice.
But Yang is not the only one learning figure skating from private coaches. More than 15 other skaters, including kids and teenagers, are also gracing the rink to learn some new moves, along with others who are simply there for fun.
"I was introduced to figure skating by my friend about a year ago and I come here for training once a week," Yang told the Global Times. "More and more of my classmates are taking up ice and snow sports, like speed skating and skiing," she said.
Ice and snow sports, which had been limited to a small group of people in previous years, are now enjoying increasing popularity among Chinese.
Thanks to the opportunity of China hosting the 2022 Winter Games, the country's ice and snow sports industry is embracing an unprecedented growing trend, experts noted.
The scale of China's ice and snow industry stood at 397.6 billion yuan ( billion) in 2017 and will continue to rise in the next three years, according to a white paper released by Tencent Sports and other institutions on January 16.
Ice and snow sports began to attract more attention in China after the country won its first Winter Olympic gold medal at the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, U.S.
The sector has risen rapidly after a decade of development in China and will see further and fast growth by 2022 thanks to the driving power of the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympic Games, experts noted.
The number of ice rinks and skiing venues in China will increase from 200 and 500 in 2015 to 650 and 800 by 2022, respectively, the white paper said, noting that about 300 million Chinese will be participating in winter sports by 2022.
"Our rink has been gaining increasing popularity in recent years and more and more young people are likely to learn figure skating," said an employee at an ice rink in a shopping mall of Beijing's Chaoyang district who preferred to remain anonymous.
The employee also told the Global Times on Sunday that "the rink has more than 20 private coaches for skating and learners range from six-year-old kids to teenagers."
Each private class of figure staking that lasts 90 minutes costs between 150 yuan and 280 yuan, she said.