As Chinese celebrate the country’s hosting of the Winter Olympics, a 66-year-old Tianjin man has gone to great lengths to show his appreciation for ice hockey by turning his balcony into an ice rink and enjoying the sport with his family members.
The recent COVID-19 outbreak in the northern Chinese city had locked down some buildings and playgrounds in the past few weeks, but it hasn’t locked up people’s enthusiasm for winter sports.
A video of 66-year-old Zhang Baoqi playing ice hockey with his grandson on the balcony rink while the community was under a closed-off management system has wowed numerous citizens after his neighbor posted it on social media.
The idea of making a balcony rink came to Zhang last year. He’s determined to pass down his passion for winter sports to his grandson.
"A boy needs bravery and tenacity. In ice hockey, sometimes you might get hit badly by another player, but you still need to stand up bravely and chase the puck. As long as I can reach the puck, I have to move forward. You must create a favorable situation even when it’s impossible. I believe a boy must learn to play ice hockey," said Zhang.
The transformation of the balcony took Zhang over 6 months.
He made sure it was both sound-proof and water-proof so his leisure time wouldn’t disturb his neighbors downstairs.
Once the balcony’s foundations were ready, the next step was ice, and that was much more difficult than he first imagined.
"Putting some milk in the water makes the ice more resilient and tougher to break, and you have to pour the water at noon, so the surface will be level when the water is frozen by midnight. At the beginning, I didnâ€TMt know that and poured the water at midnight, and it froze to ice almost immediately, making the surface very uneven,â€ said Zhang.
There was a lot of trial and error in the experiment of course, but Zhang finally got it right in the end.
He immediately called his daughter and grandson to surprise them.
"It was in December when my father called, asking us to come to his house. I said what happened? And he took us to the balcony. I was quite excited. The ice rink was not only made of ice, but the love of my parents," said Zhang Miaoxuan, daughter of Zhang Baoqi.
"I came and saw the ice rink. I wanted to show it to my friends. It’s amazing. I can play here whenever I want," said Cheng Zhuo, grandson of Zhang Baoqi.
Zhang put on his first skating boots at the age of 16, and joined a local ice-hockey team, but the team was soon wrapped up when the players found it difficult to make time.
"More than 20 years later I met my ice hockey coach. He said, Baoqi, are you still skating? I said, basically no. I then thought since Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics is coming up soon, I have to pick it up again," said Zhang.
And now, Zhang’s grandson has also fallen in love with the winter sport.
Zhang said he’s glad to see his offspring have inherited his enthusiasm for winter sports, and he hopes they will also inherit his passion for life no matter what happens.
Zhang also wrote "Cheer up, Tianjin" on the ice rink to motivate people during the city’s COVID-19 outbreak and to encourage athletes from the city who will compete at the Games.