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Altay beckons foreign coaches, skiers as winter sports boom

By Yan Dongjie | | Updated: 2023-12-22 22:28
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Nestled in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, the Jiangjun Mountain Ski Resort is buzzing with international flavor this winter, welcoming veteran skiers and coaches from Russia and France to collaborate with local instructors.

Marina Denisova, a seasoned ski coach from Russia with experience in various countries, expressed her admiration for the powder snow and diverse slopes at Altay.

"I love the powder snow and the slopes here. I post pictures of Jiangjun Mountain on my social media every day, encouraging my students from all over the world to come ski in Altay," shared Denisova, who has previously coached in Russia, Finland, and Austria. She highlighted the resort's exceptional friendliness to skiers of all levels, featuring long steep trails for professionals and wide slopes for beginners.

This year, the collaboration extends to the Club Med Ski Academy, introducing foreign coaches from France and Russia to train local ski instructors. This strategic partnership aims to provide more specialized courses to tourists, enhancing the overall skiing experience in Altay, according to Shi Zhiqiang, the general manager of a local ice and snow tourism company.

Recent data from China's e-commerce platform Meituan and Dianping reveals a remarkable surge in searches for "skiing in Altay," growing over 12 times year-on-year since November. The ice and snow tourism industry in Altay has witnessed a staggering year-on-year increase of nearly 1600 percent, attracting over 400,000 visitors.

"The ski resort is entering its busiest time of the year," noted Shi, emphasizing that the resort, equipped with 72 trails, welcomes thousands of visitors daily. Altay, hailed as the "Snow Capital of China," is ideally located for skiing in prime latitudes.

In an exciting development, Altay is set to host the Freeride World Tour, a prestigious skiing event, for the first time in China next weekend. This marks a significant milestone for the region, further establishing its prominence in the global skiing community.

This week, international enthusiasts Jason Low and his girlfriend traveled from Melbourne, Australia, to Altay for a two-week skiing adventure. Low, a Malaysian Chinese expatriate, expressed his annual tradition of vacationing in ski destinations like Canada and Japan, noting that Altay's snow conditions and facilities rival those of more established destinations, albeit at a lower cost.

"The snow conditions and facilities here are comparable to those in Canada and Japan, but the cost is lower," remarked Low, adding that skiing in Altay is becoming increasingly popular among his friends back home.

Luo Jiayuan contributed to this story.

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