BEIJING, March 21 (Xinhua) -- More than one thousand spectators, many of them students, could be heard cheering for China and other teams during the on-going 2017 World Women Curling Championship at Beijing's Capital Gymnasium. The sound was loud that some people worried it would make communication difficult for players on the field.
Chinese head coach Marcel Rocque does not think this is a problem. "There is absolutely no influence to our players' communication," he said.
"To be honest, this is the first time in China that this is happening. To have people, excitement and a noisy (atmosphere) is wonderful. We (have) prepared non-verbal communication on the field, so if the crowd is noisy, our players can communicate using gestures and signals," Rocque added.
Although China's women curling team won the gold medal at the 2009 World Championship and the bronze medal at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games, curling is still not very popular in the Asian country. China's registered professional curling players number less than 900, and the number of standard rinks is very few. For instance, in Beijing, there is only one curling rink.
After Beijing won its bid for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, China has spared no efforts in its bid to promote winter sports. The organizers of the World Curling Championship expect the event to become a catalyst for the promotion of curling in China.
A total of 64,000 students will be given free tickets to watch the curling events. After the competition is finished, the rink in the Capital Gymnasium will remain and open to the public between March 27 and 30, encouraging more people to try their hand at the sport.
"It's my first time watching a curling competition; the atmosphere is so good," high school student Cheng Yuze said.
"As Beijing 2022 is coming, more and more winter sports competitions are broadcast, and I am gradually getting to know the rules of these events. In the past however, the only winter game I participated in was snowball fighting, but now I also go skiing," Cheng remarked.
66-year old Wang Yongyi is a sports enthusiast who began to follow Chinese curling team after 2009. "Normally, I can only watch one curling match on TV, but this time at the gymnasium, I can watch four matches at the same time," Wang said.
Yue Qingshuang, a retired Chinese curling player who helped the team win the 2009 World Championship, expects more people to pick up curling in the future.
"Curling has a strong culture basis in North America and Europe, in Canada for example, there are many curling clubs in a very small town and many people over 60 years old still play curling," Yue said.
"Curling is a sport that requires both teamwork and intelligence. People of all ages can play it. I hope one day curling can attract more people in China."