On the ice, senior hockey players find youth again

By Tian Xuefei and Zhou Huiying in Harbin | China Daily | 2017-12-02 06:48

On the ice, senior hockey players find youth again

Xie Hongli and his teammates practice ice hockey on the frozen Songhua River as temperatures in Harbin dropped to as low as -20 C on Wednesday. Photo provided to China Daily

"When I learned about the ice hockey team on the river, I was really excited and joined it on the first day after retiring from the bureau at the end of 2005," he said. "I met many ice hockey enthusiasts like me and I seemed to find my youth again on the ice."

The team meets to play every afternoon from 1 pm to 3 pm, regardless of the weather. If anyone cannot make it, they notify the team's captain, Sun Guoshun, on their WeChat group.

Sun, who was elected as the team leader at the beginning of this year, said his duties include maintaining a flat ice surface and mediating conflicts between the players arising from collisions or disputes over rules.

"Once on the ice, the players all become serious," says Sun, who is 57.

When the team has an occasional chance to hold a match with other teams, they are excited because it is really hard to find many ice hockey players in the city.

"As I know, there are only hundreds of people active in this sport in Harbin," said Ma Zhanshou, 78, the oldest member of the team. "I really expect to see more people join us, not only the old but also the young people."

Sun said the successful bid by Beijing and Zhangjiakou to co-host the 2022 Winter Olympics has made more people pay attention to winter sports.

"It's our hope to see the sports return to its heyday again," he said.

Contact the writers at zhouhuiying@chinadaily.com.cn

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