Ski resort adds fun to village life in northeast China
Sitting in a snow tube, speeding down slopes covered with snow and plunging into snowdrifts, though it's still early in the morning, children in Erhe have had hours of fun playing in the snow.
A fun skiing competition in Jilin City, northeast China’s Jilin Province. [File Photo: VCG]
Located at the foot of Changbai Mountains, Erhe is a small village in northeast China's Jilin Province. Surrounded by hills it begins to snow in October and heavy snowfall transforms Erhe into a winter wonderland when the village is covered by pure snow which reaches 2 meters deep.
Making snowmen or playing with snowballs used to be the only fun for local children during winter vacation, until Erhe Ski Resort was built.
Li Shouxun, 12, said: "From then on playing with snow became more and more interesting and tricky."
Several years ago, Erhe was a typical agricultural area. However, the snowy landscape, unsophisticated buildings and fresh air have attracted photographers who post pictures of Erhe on the Internet, attracting more photographers and tourists.
In 2016, the local government started to develop tourism by bringing in tourism and cultural facilities including a ski resort, roe deer zoo, pipe museum and themed post office. In the winter of 2017 alone, it received more than 100,000 tourists.
Erhe Ski Resort was one of the new tourist spots, a comprehensive ice and snow amusement park of 12,000 square meters which can accommodate 1,500 tourists at the same time.
Yan Shoulai, the owner of Erhe Ski Resort had run a ski resort in Jilin City for nearly 10 years. In order to build the Erhe Ski Resort, he shut down a business in Jilin which had yielded substantial profits. "Because of this, my wife and I argued a lot," Yan said.
"I'm from a rural background myself and it's a sense of achievement to see an industry driving rural development," Yan said.
Erhe Ski Resort is free for local children. During the winter vacation, Li Shouxun and his friends come to play here almost every day. "There are many tourists about our age and they envy us for having this ice paradise," Li said.
The children's enthusiasm for snow inspired Yan, who turned his eyes to ice sports. "Ice sports should start with young kids. I am optimistic about the potential of China's ice and snow market."
Yan launched a training-and-research program that covers the expense of meals, transport and training, together with vacation packages and accident insurance at a low price. In the busiest season, more than 3,000 children were registered in 10 days.
To enable children to receive more formal training, Yan invited professional coaching teams from ski schools in Dalian and other big cities.
Fu Jingran, from Jilin, is a sixth grader in a primary school. She entered the program and soon mastered the basics of skiing. "Starting with the snow tube, I can now ski on the snowboard for a while. It's awesome!" Fu said.
Although there was less snow last year, Yan has a plan for the second phase, confident about the snow resources in this small village.
"Who knows, maybe one day someone from Erhe will be a skiing world champion," Yan said.