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Fire and Ice
Builders in Yanqing District step up construction for the 2022 Winter Olympics
By Li Xiaoyang  ·  2019-02-18  ·   Source: NO. 8 FEBRUARY 21, 2019
Constructors of the National Bobsleigh and Tobogganing Center project complete shotcreting the first part of the main track on October 10, 2018 (COURTESY PHOTO)

On the Lunar New Year's Eve, which this year fell on February 4, Yang Jihui, started his journey home, while for most people the festivities were already underway.

Since the arrival of 2019 has brought the 2022 Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games nearer, Yang, who is deputy manager of the National Bobsleigh and Tobogganing Center project, and his team from Shanghai Baoye Group Corp. Ltd. have made all efforts to push ahead with their work to stay on track.

After a short holiday, Yang went back to work early on February 9 to supervise the construction site. "Our team completed 44.7 percent of the task in 2018, which means that this year we need to move faster to complete the project in time," he told Beijing Review.

The project is located in Yanqing District in the northern suburbs of Beijing, chosen as one of the three major sites for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games for its vast mountain range. At Xiaohaituo Mountain, constructors are working on China's first bobsleigh, skeleton and luge track which includes a 360-degree curve. During the event, alpine skiing, bobsleigh and luge races will be held in the district.

According to Yang, they will work on U-shaped grooves next which are due to be completed by July. They are projected to finish concreting all tracks by September and complete the installation of awnings in October. For the team, the road ahead is still long. "The 1.9-km project needs to be completed for authentication by March 2020," he said.

After the day's work, Yang's phone often records over 15,000 steps as he monitors the project to ensure its quality and manage constructors, often late into the evening.

"My daily work consists of coping with the lack of builders, modifying mistakes in blueprints and ensuring that materials are in place. The quality of the project needs to be supervised in a real-time manner," he said.

Yang Jihui examines the track on July 25, 2018 (COURTESY PHOTO)

Yang, from Shanghai, moved to Beijing and became a member of the construction team in 2017.

The project was initiated in 2018 but the preparation started the previous year, since there were no domestic blueprints for the bobsleigh and tobogganing track.

Construction requires a high degree of accuracy with regards to the thickness of concrete to ensure safety for high-speed races. In the initial phase, the team overcame the challenge by utilizing research and development technologies. Shotcrete technology was successfully applied and certificated by the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation.

The rugged terrain makes it hard for the team to transport materials. "There are 45 curves on the trail from the foot of the mountain to the construction site. To ensure the supply of concrete, we have built a special team for transportation," Yang said.

The hardest time for the team was last summer when the construction of hand-dug piles was supposed to be completed in September. To avoid delay caused by inclement weather, team members had to work significantly overtime.

"For nearly two months, we worked constantly, finally completing 999 hand-dug piles to support the track, which is a tough task. Every team member lost about 2.5 to 5 kilos," Yang recalled. "It was indeed a great challenge but also showed the cohesion of our team."

The preparation for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games has brought the remote Yanqing, once unknown to many, into the spotlight. To present a green event, the district has launched several measures for environmental protection, including transplanting trees on local mountains and pushing ahead with the use of clean energy. "A legacy of the program lies in environmental protection with millions of trees being planted," Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee, told the media.

For better air quality, Yanqing is also replacing coal-fired boilers with clean energy sources, with around 10,000 households from 46 villages involved in the campaign. After upgrading the boilers in the two central heating centers, the district now requires no coal for heating downtown.

In the future, the district aims to transform itself into a leisure destination by integrating winter sports and tourism. Through developing the ice and snow industry, it has sought to boost regional development and promote itself as a top winter sports destination.

To achieve the dream of the Yanqing people, constructors on Xiaohaituo have been working with dedication and passion. Yang said the work can indeed be tough but there are also exciting moments which make it all worthwhile.

Four days before the Spring Festival, on February 1, President Xi Jinping inspected the work for the 2022 Winter Games. He spoke at the Beijing Winter Olympics Exhibition Center in Shijingshan District via a video phone system and sent New Year greetings.

"I felt excited when receiving the heartwarming message at work," Yang said. It is the first time for the deputy manager to participate in such a project for the Winter Olympics.

The sense of achievement is also accompanied by regret as Yang finds it hard to make time for his daughter. "I feel as if she is growing up without I getting to see her," he said. Fortunately, his daughter started to understand his situation at an early age.

For Yang, his work to ensure the quality of the project continues. In the arena created by his partners and him, athletes are expected to present their most spectacular performances during the 2022 Olympic Winter Games.

Copyedited by Craig Crowther

Comments to lixiaoyang@bjreview.com

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