Is There a Nuclear Power Plant at the Big Air Shougang Venue at the Beijing Olympics?

The venue is hosting the freestyle skiing and snowboarding competitions at the 2022 Winter Games

The Shougang Big Air venue at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. While some people think there's a nuclear power plant in the area, it's actually a defunct steel factory.
The Big Air Shougang venue at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Although some Olympic viewers have been expecting to see Homer Simpson pop over to watch the freestyle skiing and snowboarding competitions at the Big Air Shougang venue in Beijing due to the site’s proximity to a cooling tower, the gigantic ski ramp is located next to a 100-year-old former steel factory, not a shuttered nuclear power plant.

“Steel became not just an important industry for China, but it became a symbol in a way, an embodiment of socialist command planning. But it was also an embodiment of modernity,” per NPR. “But as China’s state-planned economy gave way to a more liberal one, Shougang kept losing money. In 2010, Shougang officially closed in Beijing. The pollution and noise were just too much. Beijing had a choice – demolish or clean up and renovate the old mill. They chose the latter.”

Built in West Beijing in the middle of a repurposed industrial park, the Big Air Shougang venue will remain in place after the Winter Games are complete and is meant to represent sustainability. In addition to the giant ski jump, the site is now home to office spaces and snow-making facilities, and will eventually house a wedding venue.

“The venue is fantastic,” American-born freestyle skier Eileen Gu, who is representing Team China at the Games, told Reuters. “I mean, look around, there’s no snow anywhere else. And somehow when you’re skiing on this job, you’re feel like you’re on a glacier somewhere.”

In an interesting twist, the Shougang steelworks were first shut down before the 2008 Summer Olympics because the future home of the headquarters of Beijing 2022 was the source of major air pollution that was choking the city, according to The New York Times.

“The first time I was on the top I was a bit disappointed because when we’re at the top we usually see lots of mountains,” said French competitor Antoine Adelisse. “But when the lights get on it’s really amazing.”

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