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China Lists More Winter Sports in National Meet
    2009-01-07 15:03:04     Xinhua

China has listed freestyle aerial in the National Games, a drive launched to push hard for success at the coming 2010 Winter Games.

"It is the first time for freestyle aerials to be listed in a National Games, meaning China wants to implant their Summer Games success to the Winter Games," Zhao Xiaolu, vice president of the Chinese Skiing Association, told Xinhua on Wednesday.

"We can expect more winter sports to be featured at the National Games," he added.

In the Beijing Summer Games last August, China topped the medals table for the first time after winning a record 51 golds, highlighting China's status as a world sports power.

In contrast, Chinese winter sports athletes failed to crack into the top 10 on the medals table of any Winter Olympics.

In the 2006 Winter Games, China finished 14th, winning two gold, four silver and five bronze medals.

"The enrollment of freestyle aerial was meant to offer chance of rivalry nationwide and thus boost medal hopes in the future Vancouver Games," Zhao said.

The enrollment came as a follow-up when China's Han Xiaopeng grabbed the first ever snow gold medal in freestyle aerial at the 2006 Games and the event will continue to be a possible bonanza for China in Vancouver.

Besides freestyle aerial, speed skating, short track and figure skating have already been included in the National Games, all pointing to China's stronghold in winter sports.

The winter part of the National Games are scheduled to take place during January to April, prior to the regular meet which will be hosted in east China's Shandong in October.

The freestyle aerial has been finished in northeast China's Changchun city during Jan. 3-5, with Li Ke and Zhao Shanshan splitting the first men's and women's gold medals at National Games.

"Freestyle aerial is important to China. We introduced it to the National Games with an aim to arouse local interest in the sport," said Zhao Yinggang, director of China's winter sports governing body.

Cross-country skiing, which boasts 25 golds in the Winter Olympic Games, is also on its way to the National Games, revealed Gao Xuedong, another top official with the governing body.

"The entry of cross-country is still being discussed, but I believe it will come of age," said Gao.



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