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Safety getting new emphasis at ski resorts as public zeal grows

By Sun Xiaochen and Shi Futian | China Daily | Updated: 2017-11-06 08:32

With skiing emerging as a popular outdoor leisure activity in China, the country's winter sports governing body has called for tighter safety management at ski resorts.

The Winter Sports Administrative Center, China's top winter sports governing body, and the Chinese Ski Association issued its 2017 update of the national ski resort management guideline last week at a meeting attended by 86 representatives from 26 winter sports venues.

Guidelines were first released in 2005, and then updated in 2013. The latest revision details a variety of safety management issues such as resort layout, equipment standards, venue patrols, staff training and first-aid plans based on venue investigations, expert panel discussions and international practices.

The guideline on resort management aims to improve the overall experience and safety of the country's increasing number of skiing enthusiasts.

"As the new winter sports season approaches, it is important to let more people happily and safely participate in the sport to lay the foundation for 300 million people to get involved in winter sports," said Gao Zhidan, vice-minister of the General Administration of Sport of China.

With more beginners embracing skiing as a cool form of recreation in winter, there have been problems. Some accidents earlier this year exposed loopholes in safety management at resorts, and the public was urged to be aware that skiing can have serious risks.

In January, in separate incidents at two resorts, a female university student and a 10-year-old boy died after veering off the ski slopes and striking obstacles. The incidents occurred in Chongli, a skiing county in Zhangjiakou, Hebei province, with several ski resorts.

Lax management at the facilities and the skiers themselves should be blamed for the accidents, some said.

"Enthusiasm for skiing in China is growing at an unbridled pace, so resorts get crowded during the peak season. Operators should enhance safety measures, and skiers had better learn how to be responsible and follow safety codes on the slopes," said Hao Shihua, a former national champion alpine skier and owner of a ski school in Chongli.

In the updated safety guideline, details such as the height of fences along slopes, the size of finishing areas, frequency of patrols and prominence of signs have been made mandatory for resorts.

Wang Lin, a service manager at Chongli's Wanlong Ski Resort, said the resort has replaced all the old fences along its 32 slopes with new ones that are more protective. It has also set up more surveillance cameras, Wang said.

The winter sports governing body will launch a comprehensive examination of all resorts nationwide to look for safety problems and fix them in accordance with the guideline, said Liu Chengliang, deputy director of the administrative center.

"It is a huge responsibility to ensure the safe operation of ice rinks and ski resorts in the country. We have to minimize the risks and prevent all sorts of accidents at all costs," he said.

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