Changing China

Giant on the move

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Snowboarding the Bird’s Nest

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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.

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