Mikaela Shiffrin falls for the second time in Beijing

Team USA’s Nicholas Goepper during the Men’s Big Air Freeski Freestyle Skiing Qualifier.

Winter Olympians are used to performing their impressive feats against the backdrop of spectacular snow-capped mountains.

But Beijing’s ski jump – Big Air Shougang – attracts attention for its much more avant-garde urban setting.

Behind skiers launching down the 60-metre-high (196-foot) ramp are furnaces, tall chimneys and cooling towers on the site of a former steelworks that for decades contributed to the notoriously polluted skies of the Chinese capital.

The factory, founded in 1919, ceased operations more than 15 years ago, as part of efforts to clean the air in the capital ahead of the 2008 Summer Olympics.

This left a large expanse of prime land in the city center ready for rehabilitation and regeneration, says engineering and design firm ARUP, which has transformed the site into a bustling center for tourism and exhibitions of art.

The rusting and aging remains of the mill have never been demolished, not even for the great aerial jump of the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Instead, the old mill has been incorporated into Big Air Shougang’s design. One of the cooling towers even bears the Games logo.

The jump caught the attention of social media users, in part for the mountains of fake snow generated to host the event, but also for the intrigue of what these towers are and why they still stand, just behind the jump.

Some Twitter users wondered if it was a nuclear power plant.

“The Olympics Big Air Stadium appears to be right next to the Springfield Nuclear Generating Station,” said a user by the name of @jlove1982 wrote.
Another one, @LindsayMplswrote, “It’s pretty dystopian to have some sort of nuclear facility as the backdrop for this Big Air ski event.”

The Shougang Big Air is the world’s first permanent big air site for long-term use. It sits on the shore of Qunming Lake, on the west side of the cooling towers 88 meters (288 feet) above sea level, according to architecture firm TeamMinus, which designed the jump.

Read the full story:

Is it a nuclear power plant?  The story behind these ski jumping tricks at the Winter Olympics

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