As the 2022 Winter Olympics get under way with curling from the Ice Cube, it’s hard to picture that the same stadium where John Shuster and the United States curling team will look to defend their gold medal was where Michael Phelps made history 14 years ago.
Formally called the Beijing National Aquatics Center, the Water Cube — as the stadium was referred to when it hosted aquatics competitions during the 2008 Summer Olympics — is now the Ice Cube.
Until Beijing was awarded the 2022 Winter Olympics, the stadium served as a water park, exhibition hall and as a home for stores and restaurants after restoration work.
But now, the 10-lane swimming pool has been transformed into a four-sheet curling rink. The 50-meter pool was completely drained and filled with a “very complex floor structure built on scaffolding with concrete blocks to ensure the folly would not move when the weight of the ice and players were added,” Mark Callan, the deputy chief ice technician, told the World Curling Federation in January 2020.
Attendance was also increased to 4,500 seats. The Ice Cube is one of five venues from the 2008 Summer Olympics that were either repurposed or reused for the 2022 Winter Olympics.
A time-lapse video from the Olympics account shows the process of how organizers turned water into ice.
Chris Plys, who won in his first mixed doubles curling competition Wednesday, tweeted out a video when he arrived at the Ice Cube and said he recalled watching Phelps win a record eight gold medals in 2008.
“So we’re here,” Ply said. “The same building that Michael Phelps set all those records, all those gold medals. Now we’re going to curl in that same building. Pretty epic.”
Phelps responded in a quote tweet: “Get it!!! The cube is a special place...enjoy it!”