China / China

Olympics to spur winter sport sector

By Sun Xiaochen (China Daily) Updated: 2017-01-25 08:14

Xi urges 2022 Games venues to deliver high-quality facilities

President Xi Jinping's support for the winter sports industry has triggered an enthusiastic response from the sector, while experts are calling for an emphasis on management and staff training.

As skiers enjoyed their ride on the mountain slopes at Genting Resort in Zhangjiakou, Hebei province, on Monday, the unexpected visit of Xi to the skiing venue for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics caused a sensation among winter sports fans and business insiders.

During his visit, Xi asked about the function of different skiing gear, interacted with a group of children at a junior skiing camp and greeted athletes from the national freestyle skiing team who were training at the venue.

"Our future winter sports talent could be cultivated from these groups of children. I hope they can enjoy themselves while improving their skills. It won't be a surprise if someone from here represents our country at the 2022 Olympics," Xi said after visiting the junior clinic at the resort on Monday.

Xi also urged the resort owner and its operational team to deliver high-quality facilities for the Games.

Hosting the Winter Olympics offers a boost for the winter sports industry in China, Xi added.

Lim Chee Wah, chairman of the resort, said he was inspired by the president's gracious manner and ardent interest in the skiing industry.

"We will guarantee enough investment and speed up the construction of facilities to live up to expectations," said Lim, who is Malaysian of Chinese ancestry.

As Beijing revs up its preparations for 2022, the country has unveiled an ambitious plan to have 650 skating rinks and 800 ski resorts in five years, up from 200 and 500 now respectively, laying the foundation for 300 million people to participate in winter sports.

However, the quality of resort management, staff training and skier services should be upgraded to match the increasing quantity of facilities, insiders said.

"The winter sports industry in China is still facing a big gap in staff training, safety standards and better management compared with advanced winter sports nations in the West," said Lin Xianpeng, a sports industry researcher at Beijing Sport University.

"We should borrow experiences from overseas and integrate their expertise with our local situation to establish the standards for safety measures and to improve services."

Some recent accidents at resorts have underlined the urgent need to improve safety awareness among China's new winter sports fans.

"It's about improving the overall understanding of the sport, which is fun, but could be dangerous if you are not properly instructed," said Andrea Coatti, a professional Italian snow park operator and ski resort consultant.

With almost 10 years of experience working at local resorts around Beijing and Zhangjiakou, Coatti is aware of the progress of the Chinese skiing industry as well as the remaining issues.

"Staff training on safety measures and rescue skills should be organized more on a consistent basis," he said.

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