Just A few weeks before the 2022 Winter Olympics (February 4-20) in Beijing, the Chinese public channel CCTV (China Central Television) aired the short documentary Guardians of the White Mountain, on the workers who maintain the ski slopes.
The first is Sun Duncheng, 53, who operates the snow cannons at White Mountain Ski Resort in Fusong, northeast China’s Jilin Province. It’s hard work: they run all night, from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m., and at the slightest hiccup – clogged water pipe, faulty fan – he receives an alert on his smartphone.
Next is Gao Wenbin, who drives a crawler groomer, smoothing the resort’s 30 trails under the glow of his powerful headlights. The voiceover says, “The snow has created new job opportunities” and tells us that the government aims to involve 300 million Chinese in winter sports.
Wu Bin (“Benny Wu”) is a lecturer at Beijing Sports University, vice president of the Beijing Ski Association and former director of strategy for China Vanke, one of the four biggest promoters. real estate in the country. In July 2021, as for five years, he published the latest version of his White Paper on the Ski Industry in China, which reveals that China now has 770 winter sports resorts, compared to just one in 1996 and 200 in 2008.
More a fun hobby than a sport
The industry recorded 20.76 million skier days in the 12 months from April 2020. Eighty percent of these were on artificial snow and 83% of skiers were under 50 years old. Most were beginners: only 22% of skiers had slopes greater than 100m. In the words of French researchers Arnaud Waquet and Sarah Mischler, “China is the largest market for beginners in the world”.
“You have to develop a simple method so that people can learn [to ski] in half a day, ”they say,“ especially if you want to capture the affluent middle class market. The Chinese tend to see skiing not as a sport that requires training but as a fun pastime: “After two (…)
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