Beijing Winter Olympics: what are the chimneys on the Big Air site?


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Amid the gravity-defying leaps and record-breaking performances by athletes at this year’s Beijing Olympics, something unusual catches the eye of those who watch the Winter Games on TV: what are these shaped towers? factory in the background?

Beijing’s Big Air Shougang Olympic venue isn’t in the usual alpine setting fans of the games are familiar with. Basically, it’s because the park is located in the Chinese capital, Beijing.

Birk Ruud of Norway competes in the men’s big air freeski final during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics at Big Air Shougang in Beijing. /Manan Vatsyayana/AFP

Birk Ruud of Norway competes in the men’s big air freeski final during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics at Big Air Shougang in Beijing. /Manan Vatsyayana/AFP

The country made an extraordinary and innovative effort to bring enough artificial snow to the capital to be able to host the games, and that hard work paid off.

Beijing has successfully integrated new Olympic venues into the city’s anatomy, sometimes making decisions that some on social media have questioned. Nothing more than the Big Air jump park, which despite claims to the contrary, is built on the site of a former steelworks.

The twin furnaces looming in the background of the competitions have been described as dystopian, surreal and even a “hellscape” by netizens, with many taking to Twitter to poke fun at the eerie place.

“The Big Air Olympics Stadium appears to be right next to the Springfield Nuclear Generating Station,” tweeted @jlove1982.

On February 8, according to CCTV, American entrepreneur Mark Andersen posted a photo of the Shougang ski jump on his social media account, saying, “this photo makes me angry, we should also build a nuclear reactor next to the ski resort”.

Two days later, Beijing Winter Olympics Organizing Committee spokesperson Zhao Weidong responded at the regular press conference, saying, “We also noticed a post on social media describing the cooling tower of a steel company like a nuclear facility, which is just nonsense.

“I also noticed that a number of enthusiastic ‘netizens’ from many countries have already done adequate scientific research in the comment section, which we are also grateful for.”

The decision to have the Big Air runway on the site of the former steelworks is also part of a well thought out plan to honor China’s commitment to becoming a greener country. The factory, which opened in 1919, was closed more than 15 years ago by China as part of its commitment to reduce pollution in Beijing ahead of the 2008 Summer Olympics, the first games the country has held. never welcomed.

The site was later transformed into a hub for tourism and art exhibition, and a bid to use the two towers as a wedding venue is under consideration, according to AFP.

Mac Forehand of the United States competes in the men’s big air freestyle skiing final of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. /AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Mac Forehand of the United States competes in the men’s big air freestyle skiing final of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. /AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

A new steelworks is currently located in Caofeidian, nearly 200 kilometers from Beijing and one of China’s “eco-cities”. The new plant is currently exploring new ways to use low-grade energy like gas, heat, electricity, water and salt to create a green recycling system that will help the country reach its goal of achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.

In recent years, China has made progress in reducing its carbon emissions. In 2020, the country’s emissions were 18.8% lower than in 2015, and recorded a 48.4% drop from 2005 levels, reversing the rapid growth in greenhouse gas emissions.

The Big Air track on the site of the old steelworks. /VCG

The Big Air track on the site of the old steelworks. /VCG

The Big Air site also has its fans, including International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, who in an interview with CGTN called it “iconic”.

“At first, I didn’t really imagine how Shougang could become a Big Air Olympic venue,” he said.

“And now to see this fantastic new iconic venue, to see the outstanding performances of all the athletes was truly breathtaking.”

Bach has repeatedly cited the site as a model of sustainability and frugality for the Beijing Winter Olympics Organizing Committee, calling it “a stunning example of urban planning and renewal.” The Shougang Cooling Towers are not only a unique venue for the Winter Olympics, but also a reminder to China and the world, at a time when Beijing is in the international spotlight, that positive change to fight against the climate crisis is not only possible but achievable.

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