Foreign sliding sports expert: Beijing 2022 brings more confidence, courage, warmth to the world

By Chen Shangwen, Shi Yuanhao, People’s Daily

The splendid, exciting, and grand Beijing 2022 will bring more confidence, courage, and warmth to people around the world, said Normunds Kotans, Latvian sliding sports expert with the Beijing Organising Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (BOCOG), in a recent interview with People’s Daily.

China has built a stage on which winter sports athletes from around the world can pursue their dreams, Kotans said, who believes every Winter Olympic athlete participating in the event will have an unforgettable experience.

Dubbed “Flying Snow Dragon”, the National Sliding Center located at the foot of Xiaohaituo Mountain in the Yanqing competition zone of the Games, a venue for bobsled, skeleton, and luge competitions of Beijing 2022, has won high praise from the foreign expert, who was also a bobsledder.

“This is the best venue I’ve visited and served. The facilities and operational functions of the sliding track will enable every participating athlete to enjoy competitions,” Kotans said, referring to the National Sliding Center.

Kotans used to be a member of Latvia’s national bobsled team. After retiring from the national team, he served in 7sliding sports competitions at the Sochi 2014 Games and the PyeongChang 2018 Games and worked for the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) as sports and events director.

Kotans was invited to China to provide advice on the siting of the National Sliding Center before the construction of the venue kicked off, according to the expert.

In September 2018, he officially joined the BOCOG as a foreign expert and has since then taken part in the construction of China’s first sliding track for bobsled, skeleton, and luge competitions ensured liaison between the BOCOG and the IBSF, and the International Luge Federation (FIL), and helped make arrangements for facilities, prepare equipment, and train technical personnel.

With a total length of 1,975 meters and a vertical drop of 121 meters, the sliding track of the National Sliding Center consists of 16 curves that vary in angle and inclination, including the world’s only 360-degree curve. It has been extremely difficult to complete the design and construction tasks of the venue, which also had very high technical requirements.

“Over the past more than three years, I’ve seen how my colleagues overcame one technical difficulty after another. They have put enormous efforts in the construction of the venue,” Kotans told People’s Daily.

Last year, athletes participating in the test events held at the venue for Beijing 2022 said the sliding track was fun and exceptionally challenging, which made Kotans and his colleagues feel very gratified, according to him.

To reduce energy loss at the sliding track to the greatest possible extent, China developed the world’s first terrain-based system with a hybrid steel-wood structure to protect the track from the sun and created the world’s first sliding track fully covered by the sunshade.

The sunshade can effectively reduce the influence of various climate factors on the ice surface of the sliding track, and save energy by insulating the track against the heat.

Fully leveraging scientific and technological achievements in promoting energy-efficient buildings, the design of the sliding track, which is worth learning from by various countries and regions, demonstrates China’s determination to host a green Winter Olympics and emphasis on sustainable development, Kotans noted.

“The architectural style of the ‘Flying Snow Dragon’ shows the characteristics of Chinese culture and blends well with the surrounding natural landscape. The venue and the mountain scenery add radiance and beauty to each other and together form an extraordinarily beautiful picture,” said Kotans, adding that for a world-class track, both the facility itself and the scenery along it can help athletes deliver their best performance.

“Winter Olympics is the biggest stage on which ice and snow sports athletes can make their dreams come true. They worked hard for four years or even longer to earn an Olympic berth,” said Kotans. For some athletes, Beijing 2022 may be the last major event of their career, he added.

China has honored its promise and overcomes the obstacles caused by the COVID-19 pandemic to hold the 2022 Winter Olympics as scheduled, which bears great significance to athletes, according to Kotans.

“In particular, China has developed detailed epidemic prevention and control policy principles regarding the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games and taken strict measures including the closed-loop management system, guaranteeing smooth competitions and the health and safety of athletes and other Games-related personnel,” he noted.

As scientific and technological achievements are increasingly integrated into winter sports and facilities for winter sports constantly improve in China, more and more Chinese people have started to take part in and fall in love with ice and snow sports in recent years.

“Not long ago, I went skiing in Yanqing district, Beijing and found the resort was bustling with skiers. On one of the tracks, more than 100 children raced against each other. I really feel that winter sports in China have great vitality and development prospects,” Kotans said.

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