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2022 momentum builds on China's artificial slopes

China Daily | Updated: 2020-10-30 09:14
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SHAOXING, Zhejiang province-Xia Zhiyi drove 40 kilometers to an indoor ski park in China's eastern city of Shaoxing so his 12-year-old daughter could practice her technique on the artificial snow.

His family is part of a growing number of Chinese taking interest in the sport which is increasingly seen as a status symbol in the world's most populous nation and is being actively promoted by the government ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing and Zhangjiakou.

The 41-year old said he was preparing his daughter to ski on mountains for a family trip he has booked this coming winter. "You have to book six months in advance to secure a good spot," he said.

China hopes to get 300 million people involved in ice and snow sports as it builds toward the 2022 Olympics. The country's winter sports sector is expected to be worth 1 trillion yuan ($149.19 billion) by 2025.

After winning the bid to host the Winter Olympics back in 2015, the government began to offer discounts on electricity and land usage to ski resorts and parks.

In recent years, Beijing has helped deepen cooperation between resorts and educational institutions as it aims to add winter sports to the curriculums of 5,000 schools by 2025.

That would help secure a steady customer base for ski parks such as Shaoxing Qiaobo Ice& Snow World, which has seen business boom since China won the 2022 bid.

Revenues at Shaoxing Qiaobo surged 20 percent in 2019, its biggest rise since opening 11 years ago, according to manager Zhang Di.

It is now running at less than 20 percent of its full capacity of 3,000 daily visitors due to lingering coronavirus concerns.

Zhang Li, analyst at International Data Consulting (IDC), expects overall revenue at China's 760-plus snow resorts to drop more than 50 percent in 2020, but said at least a quarter of those should recover more quickly since they are indoor venues and can open all year.

Back at Shaoxing Qiaobo, manager Zhang was counting on "addicted" children to become loyal customers, adding that the park had signed partnership deals with two neighboring schools.

A 7-year old slowly navigated the snow at the park holding the hands of his coach. His father, Li Hao, said the boy grew to like snow sports after being introduced to hockey and skating at his school. "We came because our child is fond of snow sports," Li said."He can go to an outdoor ski resort when he's older."


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