Winter sports in China eye white-hot growth

Skiing, snowboarding boom, sparking expansion of various related business segments

By WANG ZHUOQIONG | China Daily | Updated: 2024-02-19 09:28
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Skiers in skiwear carry their gear at a ski resort in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia autonomous region, on Dec 19. DING GENHOU/FOR CHINA DAILY

Emily Li, 32, a Shanghai-based corporate strategist, would probably agree. Li said she spends nearly 60,000 yuan or more every year to experience the thrills and excitement of snow and ice sports, especially snowboarding, her new passion. Some 20,000 yuan go toward domestic ski trips, including those to resorts in and around Beijing, while the rest is her budget for international excursions. But there is more in snow sports than just thrills, she said.

Li discovered her passion for skiing a decade ago, alongside diving, surfing and tennis. She views skiing not just as recreation, but as a personal challenge. "For me, skiing is more than just a winter pastime; it's a test of my limits and a confrontation with my fears."

Despite her apprehension about falls and risks of speed, skiing provides a unique blend of exhilaration and self-discovery, she said.

Li hits the slopes three times a year, favoring destinations like Beidahu and Songhuahu resorts in Jilin province, as well as ski resorts in Japan that are known for their pristine slopes and modern amenities.

Investing time and effort in skiing yields discernible rewards, both physically and socially, Li said. Skiing, she said, offers quick feedback and visible progress, while friendly competition and post-skiing camaraderie enhance the social aspect of the sport, akin to the bonding experienced during road trips and hiking adventures.

"The sense of camaraderie that comes with sharing meals and celebrations after a day on the slopes is truly fulfilling," Li remarked.

While ski boots are indispensable for Li, other elements of the gear are accessed through friends or online platforms that sell secondhand goods. Affordability is a priority for her, but so are quality and performance on which she would not compromise.

Li is among a rising number of skiers in China who spend big on ice and snow sports, and are even adopting new strategies to extract maximum mileage out of their new pastime. To beat growing crowds at venues of winter sports, some are choosing weekdays to visit, which also helps reduce costs and avoid peak traffic situations.

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