SHIJIAZHUANG — The Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games have not only shone a spotlight on Taizicheng — a once unbeknownst village often covered in snow in winter — but also revived its past glory as the site of an imperial palace dating back 800 years.
TODAY: SKIERS’ PARADISE
Boarding a bullet train at the Beijing North Railway Station, it takes less than an hour to reach Taizicheng Station, which is adjacent to a resort serving the 2022 Winter Olympics in the Zhangjiakou competition area, north China’s Hebei Province.
In 2015, Beijing and Zhangjiakou won the co-bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics. The Taizicheng Village area in Chongli District of Zhangjiakou City was selected as the site of supporting facilities for the Games.
Now the resort town of Taizicheng, covering an area of 350 standard soccer fields, has been transformed into a hot destination for those savoring the fun of snow with obvious relish. One favorite is Thaiwoo. It is one of the largest ski resorts in China, built with an investment of over 5 billion yuan (about 784 million U.S. dollars).
“The Winter Olympic Games have effectively combined the tourism resources in Chongli and brought in more clientele, and major ski resorts are working hard to adapt to the new trend,” said Li Yongtai, Thaiwoo’s executive vice president. “There definitely will be more tourists coming after the Games, and we’re racking our brains to present them with novel services and products.”
Now Chongli is home to seven large-scale ski resorts, with four among the top-10 ski fields in China. The total length of the ski runs in Chongli has exceeded 160 km.
In 2019, Chongli was selected by the New York Times as one of the “52 places to travel to” for its booming ski industry. Ice and snow sports have also donned a new image in the once impoverished, mountainous village of Taizicheng.
“Most young people worked as migrant workers elsewhere before Beijing and Zhangjiakou won the co-bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics, and those who stayed mainly relied on growing vegetables,” said Gao Wei, Party secretary of Taizicheng Village.
“Frequent gales and blizzards in winter once mired us in dire poverty,” said Li Guo, a 71-year-old villager. Now they are the money-spinner.
Currently, about a third of the residents in Taizicheng Village are engaged in jobs related to winter sports. The fast-growing tourism industry has lured youngsters back and fattened their purses.
In Sitaizui Township, where Taizicheng is located, the average per capita net income reached 16,168 yuan in 2021.
YESTERDAY: ROYAL PALACE
Construction of the supporting facilities also uncovered the former brilliance of Taizicheng, which is the location of a royal palace some 800 years ago.
The ruins in Taizicheng feature high-grade buildings, which are distributed along the axis and have massive hall columns, indicating the noble status of the site, said Huang Xin, deputy director of Hebei Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, who leads an excavation team in the area.
After a full excavation, archaeologists put the period of the palace in the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234). Now, the ruins have been converted into a park covering an area of nearly 19 hectares.
Not far away, rehearsals are in full swing at the square where medalists mounting the Olympic podium will be awarded.
“The podium will soon catch global attention and become a window to showcase the Olympic spirit and the charm of Chinese culture,” said Gao Tian, vice director of the culture and ceremonies department of the organizing committee.
“The audience can not only witness the passion for ice and snow here but also have a closer contact with the cultural heritage of China,” Gao added.