Winter sports are lots of fun – ask any kid who’s just scored the winning goal during an ice hockey game or done a figure-eight on a frozen lake. This month, we speak to Beijing international school students about the different winter sports and activities they enjoy.
Canadian brothers Marshall (age 9) and Roman Wahl (10) are students at The International Montessori School of Beijing (MSB). They have both been playing ice hockey for a year now. The boys have lessons up to four times each week at the Hokay rink. “Three times a week is our team practice and then we have a skills practice,” explains Roman. They also take part in ice hockey games every Saturday, at various locations around Beijing. Both boys will be attending ice hockey winter camp, held at the Hokay rink.
The coaches at Hokay come from Russia, Finland, Japan, and Canada. Kostya, Marshall’s team coach ‘is very serious about hockey and very nice,” Marshall says. “Kostya is all about getting things done right,” adds Roman.
The boys enjoy the speed, physical contact, and teamwork ice hockey provides. “And I love it when I score!” laughs Roman. They both agree that ice hockey helps them with their soccer. “It helps me in my position as defender. It gives you a sense of where other players are,” says Marshall. “Also my legs have gotten stronger through playing hockey,” says Roman. “I do better in the cross-country races at school.”
Joose (age 16) and Eerik Harju (14) are Finnish students at Western Academy of Beijing. Both began playing ice hockey at four years of age. The boys first learned to skate in Finland, and kept it up here in Beijing at Le Cool ice rink.
They have formal coaching twice a week at the Hokay rink, play for the youth team, and also go to the rink for skating, scrimmage (pick-up hockey), and free skating. Joose plays in the Beijing International Ice Hockey league (BIIH). Eerik hopes to join the BIIH next season. “The league gives me the opportunity to play with skilled, older guys. The games are more competitive, and cleaner, than in the youth leagues,” Joose says.
Their youth team travels a lot, participating in tournaments and friendly matches in Beijing, elsewhere in China, and across Asia. “We have been quite successful, winning great tournaments,” says Joose. “We are coming to the point where there isn’t enough competition in Asia. Not only because we have such a good team, but also because the pool of players shrinks as players become older. It is common in China that players quit in middle and high school because they want to concentrate on studying,” explains Eerik.
Both boys agree that ice hockey benefits other sports they play. “Ice hockey builds endurance, develops hand-eye coordination, and strategic game skills. But more than anything, ice hockey is a great team sport. All these skills can be used when we play football and volleyball,” says Joose.
Tess (age 10) and Maggie Hunter (7) are from the US and have lived in Beijing for four years. Students at Dulwich College Beijing (DCB), Tess began ice skating at age 6 and Maggie at 4. The girls are about to start private lessons with Camilla Ojansivu Underhill, the skating coach for the Dulwich Community Program (DCP). Last year they had group lessons with Underhill, and before the DCB rink opened had private lessons, first at Le Cool ice rink and then at All Star.
Tess and Maggie have lessons once a week during the skating season. They have each competed in Ice Skating Institute Asia’s Skate Beijing competition, held at Le Cool. “Ice skating helps us with balance and posture in ballet, because it is just like dancing, but on ice. It also helps us with our football and tennis because it keeps us fit,” says Tess.
The girls like to skate at the DCB rink because of its convenience, being located on their school campus. They won’t be attending any skating camps during this winter break, but will be doing free skating with their cousins in the US.
Chinese-American Dora Xiang (age 9) has been living in Beijing for eight years and attends the Canadian International School of Beijing (CISB). Dora started skiing when she was six years old, and began having lessons when she was eight.
A neighbor’s dad recommended multi-activity and sports organization Imagine., for coaching and lessons. “Skiing is fun with Imagine. We do a lot of activities and games, like jumping at the bunny hill. My skiing skills have really progressed,” says Dora.
Dora had private lessons with Imagine. coach Kristin and also joined their ski camp last season. She took part in Imagine.’s ski race weekend, the International Schools Snowsports Championships China (ISSCC) in March 2015. “I didn’t win any medals, because all the other skiers were much more experienced. But it was great to experience a real slalom race,” says Dora. She plans to keep practicing and wants to join next year’s ISSCC with hopes of getting a medal.
Dora’s lessons take place in Huaibei, Huairou and Nanshan Miyun District, with the ski competition held in Wanlong. “I like learning new skills, and it’s so much fun to go fast. When I first saw the double black piste in Wanlong, I was scared and thought I wouldn’t make it,” she says. “Finishing was a great achievement. Skiing gives me confidence.” Dora plans to ski with neighbors in Japan this year, her first time skiing outside of China. If she can find a few free days in her busy schedule, she will also join the Imagine. winter ski camp.
German native Jule Nestler is 14-years old and a student at The British School of Beijing Shunyi (BSB). Jule started skiing when she was just two and a half. “My parents put me on skis for the first time in Badhofgastein in Austria, where my family has been skiing for many years,” says Jule.
Two years ago Jule had advanced beyond the ski school level, so began private lessons each time the family went on vacation in Austria, at least once every year. “Last year we went skiing for two weeks during the Christmas holiday, and for ten days during Chinese New Year,” she says. “Last year on holiday I did the guest race, where I was the fastest female of the day. Even with my young age, I was faster than all the other women,” says Jule proudly.
Jule has taken part in the Austrian charity ski race twice in Beijing. “It was a nice experience and I placed third in the mixed division,” she says. In the ISSCC competition this year, Jule won gold for the dual slalom and the giant slalom in the girls’ 7-13-years age group. She will be racing at the competition again this season, but in the mixed 14-18-years age group. Jule has skied at the Genting Resort Secret Garden in Chongli County. “It’s a good ski resort, with a variety of ways to ski downhill and different types of lifts. I have been there only for races, but it’s a nice destination for family trips,” she says.
Skiing and Snowboarding
Nanshan Ski Resort 南山滑雪场
Shengshuitou Village, Hennanzai Town, Miyun (8909 1909, email@example.com) http://www.nanshanski.com/index-en.asp 北京密云河南寨镇圣水头村
Genting Resort Secret Garden 密苑云顶乐园
Daily 8am-4pm. Chongli County, Zhangjiakou, Hebei Province (400 1681 234, firstname.lastname@example.org) www.secretgardenresorts.com 河北省张家口市崇礼县四台嘴乡梧桐大道
Wanlong Ski Resort
Daily 8.30am-4.30pm. Honghualiang,Chongli County in Zhangjiakou, Hebei Province (0313 478 5111/8888) 河北省张家口市崇礼县红花梁
Outdoor Ice Skating
Dulwich College Beijing
Legend Garden Camus, 89 Capital Airport Road, Shunyi District (8450 7676, email@example.com) http://www.dulwich-beijing.cn 北京市顺义区首都机场路89号丽京花园7区
Early morning to dusk. Qianhai, north side of Beihai Park, Xihai Beiyan, Xicheng District. (6612 5717) 后海地区, 西城区西海北沿(北海公园以北)
Daily 8am-6pm. 45 Baishiqiao Lu, Haidian District. (8841 2830) 紫竹院公园, 海淀区白石桥路45号
Indoor Ice Skating
Center Ice Asia
Daily noon-8pm. Hokay Ice Sports Center, Quanfa Garden North Gate, Chaoyang District (8575 9826 (Chinese), firstname.lastname@example.org) www.centericeasia.com 浩泰冰上运动中心朝阳区朝阳路兴隆公园内
Le Cool Ice Rink
Mon-Sat 10am-10pm, Sun 10am-7pm. B2/F, China World Shopping Mall, 1 Jianguomenwai Dajie, Chaoyang District (6505 5776, email@example.com) www.lecoolicerink.com 朝阳区建国门外大街1号国贸商城B2楼
All Star Ice Rink
Daily 10am-10pm. 1/F, Solana Lifestyle Shopping Park, 6 Chaoyang Gongyuan Lu, Chaoyang District. (5905 6328) 全明星滑冰俱乐部,朝阳区朝阳公园路6号蓝色港湾国际商区首层
Photos: Dave’s Studio and courtesy of Naomi Wahl, Mikko Harju, Imagine., Ulf Nestler, and Patty Hunter
This article originally appeared on page 54-57 of the beijingkids December 2015 issue. Click here to read the issue for free on Issuu.com. To find out how you can get your own copy, email firstname.lastname@example.org