Changing China

Giant on the move

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Snowboarding the Bird’s Nest


Beijing’s “Bird’s Nest” stadium, the tangled steel structure that starred as the focal point of the 2008 Summer Games, has been dressed up for winter in hopes of drawing post-Olympics visitors — and their cash.

Transformed into a winter-themed sports park, the stadium — which in its glory days packed some 80,000 cheering spectators into row after row of seats — now includes snowboard and ski slopes inside the inner ring, as well as a short toboggan tube, all covered in man-made snow.

But judging by the turnout on the opening weekend, when media representatives outnumbered paying visitors, this white Christmas wonderland faces a tough challenge to escape the stadium’s legacy as a big, white elephant.CHINA-BIRDSNEST/SNOW

The 180 yuan entrance fee (about $26) is one barrier to making the snowy playground a financial success. A young mother who brought her son said she reluctantly paid the fee only because the stadium has a special status among China’s famous cultural sites. Other visitors said they were taken aback by extra fees charged inside the venue.