Winter Games hopefuls train in sub-tropical Taiwan

For six years, Taiwanese athlete Li Sin-rong has sped down down sloping roads and mountain highways on a duct-taped green sled - with wheels instead of blades.

She's luging, a sport where she has to ride a flat sled on her back, and she hopes to secure a place at the Winter Olympics, despite hailing from sub-tropical Taiwan.

Winter athletes there often have to travel to training facilities abroad in order to practice on snow and ice.

But global health restrictions have made those opportunities harder to come by.

Beijing 2022 hopefuls like the 23-year-old have had to improvise if they want to make it past the qualifying round.

"When (athletes from) big countries learn about our training situation, they are always quite shocked, because they only really know that Taiwan is a country in Asia, they don't even know if we have ice or if it snows over here."

"After they learn about our practice environment, they empathise with us and think that we work really hard to practice this sport."

For Lee Win-yi, alpine skiing is a family affair.

The nineteen-year-old's father was one of Taiwan's few professional skiiers, but his dreams of competing in the Olympics were dashed by the island's mandatory military service.

Now he runs a ski centre, and with his daughter training on the machines.

While most athletes dream of gold at the Olympics, her focus is to start small.

"From the start, we knew it would be very unlikely to stand on the awards podium. We just want to stand on the starting platform, which is an odd thing, because most athletes are charging towards first place, but we just want a spot."

Gold medals have remained elusive for Taiwan, which sent only four athletes to the last Winter Games in 2018.

Should these two women compete at the next one, they would be on the 'Chinese Taipei' team at Beijing's insistence, which claims Taiwan as its own.

Still, both have said they are proud to represent their homeland.

The Winter Games kick off on February 4.

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