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First curling event held as Water Cube turns into Ice Cube

2019-12-08 15:23:00 Xinhuanet

BEIJING, Dec. 8 (Xinhua) -- China Junior Curling Open 2019 was held this week at China's National Aquatics Centre, where Michael Phelps claimed record eight gold medals in Beijing 2008 as the venue's nickname turns from Water Cube into Ice Cube.

The Beijing 2008 venues - including the renowned "Bird's Nest" National Stadium and "Water Cube" National Aquatics Centre - continue to play a key role in sports. Ballets such as Swan Lake have been performed at Water Cube, but for Beijing 2022 it will be upgraded so that it can host curling and switch back to swimming and diving seasonally.

After a year of construction, the pool of Water Cube eventually transfers into Olympic standard curling venue. China Junior Curling Open 2019, which was held from Tuesday to Sunday, becomes the first curling event held at this venue with the participation of a total of 20 men and women's teams.

"Over the past year we have completed the transformation of the field of the play lighting system, the ice-making system, and air conditioning system," said Yang Qiyong, general manager of National Aquatics Center.

As it is the first time in the history of the Olympics that curling is held on a block of movable ice, Yang pointed out there were several difficulties. "All the equipment will be moved out during the transformation between swimming and curling. So the first is to make sure the ice supporting system is stable and accurate. The second is to control the airflow as the venue is much larger than the former Olympic curling venue."

The ice-making and ice quality for curling is one of the most demanding factors in the transformation. Hans R. Wuthrich, a certified international ice technician, helped make the ice in the past three weeks.

"Everything is going really well here. The venue is great. The people have been excellent to work with. We do have some little things to figure out before we can say yes, everything is 100%, but that will be coming," said Hans.

After six days test, the ice is not deformed, cracked or frosting. The temperature and humidity in the venue meet the requirement. In addition, questionnaires are also issued to referees, players and spectators to gain feedback.

"This is great ice. Everything is going fine. We are very happy to use the same place for both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games. It's a great legacy. Playing curling on movable ice is the first time in the history of the Olympics. So far it has been working," director from World Curling Federation Toyo Ogawa said.

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