What has swimming nice Michael Phelps obtained to do with curling?
On the floor not a lot, however flip water into ice at an iconic Olympic venue, and it’s a completely different story.
The ten-lane pool the place the American gained eight gold medals in 2008 has been remodeled right into a four-track curling rink for the 2022 Video games as Beijing prepares to grow to be the primary metropolis to host each summer season and winter Olympics.
It’s not simply the Chinese language capital that’s swapping sporting seasons; there are athletes buying and selling trainers for skates as they pursue a twin Olympic dream.
With 100 days to go earlier than the motion will get underneath means on 4 February, we have a look at how some acquainted locations and faces are preparing for the largest winter sports activities occasion.
From Water Dice to Ice Dice
Beijing will probably be reusing 5 of its venues from the summer season Video games as a part of its sustainability goals.
One of the memorable from 2008 was the Water Dice – a box-shaped constructing, clad in a honeycomb of clear cushions and lit up in blue that hosted the swimming, diving and inventive swimming.
The large bubble-wrapped field had its amenities, lighting and air flow renovated to grow to be the curling venue, and as soon as the Video games are over it’s going to swap seasonally between an aquatics and ice venue.
The opposite key venue from 13 years in the past, the Fowl’s Nest stadium, can even get one other Olympic look when it hosts the opening and shutting ceremonies.
On the summer season Video games, this was the place the athletics came about in addition to the ceremonies that included the handover to London 2012 that includes David Beckham and a double-decker bus.
Ice hockey will probably be happening at two of the venues utilized in 2008 – the Nationwide Indoor Stadium that hosted rhythmic gymnastics, trampoline and handball and the Wukesong Sports activities Centre that was dwelling to the basketball.
Quick-track and determine skating is being held on the Capital Indoor Stadium, the place volleyball was performed in the summertime Video games.
There may be one new venue within the current Olympic Park, the place the Nationwide Velocity Skating Oval – nicknamed ‘The Ice Ribbon’ – now stands on an space that was previously used for hockey and archery.
The one different website being utilized in Beijing is the brand new Huge Air Shougang, which is on a former metal mill website away from the Olympic Park, whereas the sliding, snowboarding and snowboard occasions happen at two different hubs linked inside an hour by rail from Beijing.
‘I had per week off’ – athletes switching from summer season to winter Video games
The Beijing 2008 venues are very acquainted to British lengthy jumper Greg Rutherford, who reached the ultimate within the Fowl’s Nest on his Olympic debut 4 years earlier than successful gold in London.
If issues go to plan, he might be in a bobsleigh this time spherical having been named in one of many Nice Britain bobsleigh squads that will try and qualify for the Video games.
Whereas nonetheless comparatively unusual, there are sufficient precedents of athletes switching between summer season and winter Video games for this to be a practical prospect – though no Briton has gained medals at each.
One other member of Britain’s bobsleigh squad, Montell Douglas, can also be hoping to compete in Beijing once more, having raced within the girls’s 100m in 2008.
Canadian Vincent de Haitre is taking the swap to a different degree, although, as he goals to compete in Beijing simply 180 days after showing on the Tokyo Video games.
Already a twin Olympian, having competed in pace skating at Pyeongchang 2018 earlier than observe biking in Tokyo, the 27-year-old has a yr lower than regular to make the transition from summer season to winter after the coronavirus pandemic delayed the summer season Video games by a yr.
He’s the primary athlete to aim to do that in such a short while, though up till 1992 winter and summer season Video games had been held in the identical yr so there are athletes who’ve competed at each in the identical yr.
“I had per week off once I obtained again, which isn’t rather a lot,” he instructed BBC Sport. “When the cyclists had their low season I used to be coaching with the skaters and when the skaters had their low season, I went to the Olympics. It has been an actual battle to remain wholesome and in addition keep motivated.
“Doing sport is inherently a painful exercise – your heart-rate goes so excessive you style blood, your legs burn, your again is sore on a regular basis, your knees harm, it’s a must to see the physios nearly twice per week.
“It is selecting effort and onerous effort on a day-to-day foundation and you have not had an opportunity to only not do something.
“I’ve earned the respect of my team-mates [in both sports] by difficult myself with one thing only a few have ever performed and no-one has performed it on this timeframe.
“This has positively been probably the most difficult factor I’ve needed to do in my athletic profession. In the intervening time attending to the Olympics is the aim, however as soon as there simply being there may be not the aim any extra, it is to be aggressive.”
From stopping rain to creating snow at venues
It’s not solely the indoor venues and a few athletes who’ve been remodeled from summer season to winter.
With Beijing’s common temperature in February above freezing and winters typically dry, the plain problem for a Winter Video games is a scarcity of snow.
Zhangjiakou – which is internet hosting a lot of the ski and snowboard occasions – averages eight inches of the white stuff per yr, whereas Yanqing – dwelling to the sliding and alpine snowboarding – will get simply two inches.
The reply, clearly, is faux it.
It won’t be the primary time Beijing has used artifical climate to fight the pure circumstances at a Video games, with the Chinese language authorities having seeded the clouds earlier than the 2008 opening ceremony to create a downpour elsewhere and preserve the stadium dry.
That concerned firing rockets full of silver iodide crystals into rain clouds over the suburbs of Beijing.
This time it will likely be snow cannons firing super-cool water from reservoirs and lakes to eject ice crystals and create pistes on the slopes.
Beijing is just not the primary winter Video games to lack snow – Pyeongchang 2018 and Sochi 2014 each used synthetic snow and even Vancouver in 2010 had vans of it being introduced in to the melting Cypress Mountain venue.
Keep in mind the phrases of the Worldwide Olympic Committee on the time of the Chinese language bid for the Video games: “As a result of lack of pure snow the look of the venue might not be aesthetically pleasing.”
There may be, maybe, a silver lining in that (snowless) cloud – it might be a fast swap again to summer season sports activities once more afterwards.