Xinjiang’s winter sports add more fun for visitors

URUMQI: Austrian ski instructor Platon Kerau traveled to Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region along with more than 100 Chinese skiers on a charter flight from Beijing during the Spring Festival holiday last month. The trip was organized by a Beijing-based ski club known as Idol Club. The main goal of the group was to ski at the Jikepulin International Ski Resort in Hemu Village of Altay Prefecture, a border area neighboring Russia, Kazakhstan and Mongolia.
“I’m really impressed by how fast and nicely these kinds of things develop in China,” Kerau told Beijing Review when talking about the growth of winter sports facilities.
The resort has a ski season lasting for longer than 210 days a year. It is not windy in winter, and its temperatures during the ski season are more comfortable than those of the ski areas in other areas across China. The powder snow, mild weather, plus the long snow period have gained Altay the reputation of being the country’s “snow capital.”
Additionally, the services on offer at the resort have greatly improved over the past year. “Last year, as I heard from my friends, there were no cabins or snowboards for rent yet,” Kerau said, “One year later, there is a beautiful huge service center with really high quality equipment for rent.”
Skiing in the resort comes highly recommended by many experienced skiers. “Once you’ve skied in Xinjiang, you won’t want to go anywhere else,” Wu Yihao, a sports graduate and experienced skier who was also the group’s guide as well as their interpreter and photographer, said. Outside of his routine office job in Beijing, the sports buff often travels around China in search of great places to ski. Summer and autumn have traditionally been regarded as the best seasons to visit Xinjiang, but the region’s reputation as one of China’s top destinations for winter travel has been growing in recent years. During the recent Spring Festival holiday, from January 21-27, sites in Xinjiang received 4.8 million tourists, an increase of more than 30 percent year on year. Of these, the number of tourists from outside Xinjiang increased significantly.
Xinjiang is located 2,000-3,000 km west to and two time zones away from Beijing. Since all of China operates on Beijing Time, ski resorts in Xinjiang often open as late as 10 a.m., offering tourists a relaxed holiday schedule. “Skiers can get a good night’s sleep and still be fully geared up before the slopes open in the morning,” Wu said.
Peng Yuchan from Sichuan Province in southwest China flew some 2,500 km to the city of Altay with two friends on January 22. The friends had been longing to visit the Jiangjunshan ski resort in the city for months, thanks to its popularity on social media.
–The Daily Mail-Beijing
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