Chinese state councillor Liu Yandong declared open the 12th National Winter Games at the Rings Stadium in Changchun on Tuesday evening.
The 12th National Winter Games at the Rings Stadium in Changchun on Tuesday evening.
It is the fifth time the quadrennial event is staged in Jilin Province, a traditional powerhouse in winter sports, since the Games were launched in 1959.
The 12th edition, which runs through Jan. 13, offers 115 gold medals for grabs in 12 disciplines of five sports, namely skating, skiing, biathlon, curling and ice hockey.
A total of 1,067 athletes of 43 delegations, including the teams from Hong Kong and Macao, will be competing in the 11-day games, with ice competitions to be held in the provincial capital city of Changchun and snow races in the Beidahu skiing resort of Jilin city.
Four-time Olympic champion Wang Meng, China's most decorated winter Olympian, is set to miss the nation's top level winter event due to a domestic suspension following a brawl last July.
In spite of Wang's absence, Olympic gold medalist Zhou Yang and world champion Liang Wenbao, both short track speed skaters, will lead the field for the 95-member Changchun delegation.
Team Harbin, the hosts' archrivals, will be spearheaded by pairs figure skating world champions Pang Qing/Tong Jian and Wang Bingyu, skipper of the world title winning Chinese women's curling team.
At Tuesday's evening opening ceremony, representatives of referees and delegations paraded into the stadium amid a carnival atmosphere.
A five-part performance, which was designed, directed and performed mainly by students and teaching staff of Changchun Standard University, took center stage following the parade.
Winter Olympic pairs figure skating gold medalists Shen Xue and Zhang Hongbo hit the rink with a romantic routine themed "Here We Met", taking the whole scene to a climax.
A quartet of former winter sports stars Ye Qiaobo, Chen Lu, Li Jiajun, and Zhou Yang, a Jilin native who won a short track gold at Vancouver, took part in the final leg of the "torch" relay and lit the electronical main cauldron with digital flame.