BEIJING, March 27 -- The World Women's Curling Championships 2017 (WWCC) dropped their curtains here on Sunday. As the first world championships of any winter sport held in Beijing after the city won its bid for 2022 Winter Olympics, the competition served as a good chance for Beijing 2022 organizers to accumulate the experience that will be crucially needed to host a successful 2022 Games. It also went a long way toward helping to popularize curling in China.
"When we won the bid for the world championships in October 2015, we realized that it was a chance to learn how to organize top winter sports events, and to get prepared for the 2022 Olympics," said Shao Xiaojun, secretary general of the World Championships' organizing committee.
Beijing earlier held the men's World Championships in 2014 at the same venue. But observers and participants say the preparatory work this year was much improved.
"The preparatory work was launched at the end of 2015; we set up a team of 120 people and recruit over 200 volunteers during the tournament. Compared to 2014, we are more experienced this time," Shao said.
Cooperation and communication with international organizations are indispensable when it comes to the hosting of a successful international sports event. Shao said that during the preparations for the tournament, they worked closely with the World Curling Federation (WCF), which gave them advice on how to make the event better.
"They have very strict standards, and already have a set of mature plans for every aspect of the event. We have to learn from them and try to follow their rules," Shao added.
Luckily, Beijing's efforts paid off as its work was highly commended by the WCF and foreign participating teams, as well as ordinary audience members.
The Chief of the WCF Kate Caithness said more than once that Beijing had done a "first class" job and that its efforts helped more people in China "understand the sport".
"I'm so happy that so many young people are attending the event; they are curling's future," said Caithness when interviewed by Xinhua News Agency.
Adam Kingsbury, the coach for champions Canada, said that it was a "totally new experience" for his team to compete in Beijing and he was satisfied with every aspect of the event.
When asked for their thoughts on the organizing work, many international coaches and players used the word "perfect." Many also expressed excitement at the chance to return to Beijing for the 2022 Winter Games.
Meanwhile, the organizers also took the opportunity to encourage more Chinese to try curling, especially youngsters. According to Shao, Beijing will hold a curling event for juniors right after the World Championships.
The lack of dedicated curling facilities is one of the biggest challenges that preclude the development of the sport in China. However, Beijing is planning to establish a training base for winter sports in Yanqing district and private capital is attempting to become involved in the effort as well.
"The cost of curling ice is still a problem. We should asses our current situation and then try to attract more people to the sport," Shao concluded.