POSTED: Wednesday June 24th 2015

Global winter sports expert panel testifies to "quite fantastic" skiing conditions in Zhangjiakou

Former Croatian ambassador to China Ante Simonic skis in Chongli ©Ante Simonic
Former Croatian ambassador to China Ante Simonic skis in Chongli ©Ante Simonic

Beijing, June 24 - A team of international experts came together at the Beijing Olympic Tower yesterday to underline how Zhangjiakou offers ideal conditions for winter sports and would be an excellent host for an Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. 

The seven experts have all been involved in Zhangjiakou’s rise as a global winter sports destination. They confirmed that Zhangjiakou’s snowfall conditions meet both IOC’s and international winter sports federations’ standards for hosting world-class events. They also explained that Zhangjiakou has become a go-to destination of training for international skiing teams while also attracting an increasing number of amateur skiers coming here to have fun during the winter.

In recent years, Chongli county of Zhangjiakou has won the acclaim of global experts as possessing “ideal” conditions for winter sports. Chairman Wei Qinghua of China Mountain Development, co., Ltd. has spent the past thirteen years participating in the design, planning, construction and operation of both Wanlong and Genting Ski Resorts in Chongli, described the typical winter as such: “The average temperature during our 150-day skiing season is -12 degrees centigrade, with level 2 wind speeds. Normally, each winter we see one small snowfall every 3 days, one medium-sized snowfall every 10 days, and one large snowfall each month.” 

Beyond Chongli’s sufficient natural snowfall, the experts said its cold winters and solid ground also provide for ideal snowmaking conditions. Deputy General Manager Mojca Ogris Schimberg of internationally renowned snowmaking specialist company Demaclenko explained how artificial snow is preferred by the International Ski Federation (FIS), saying “no matter how many meters of natural snow you see in an area, events such as freestyle skiing require and work best on tightly packed snow on hard ground.” Furthermore, the “one thing” she wanted to “make perfectly clear” is that “in regards to the preparation of Winter Olympics courses, the climate in Zhangjiakou is very, very good. First off, you have dry air, which is excellent for snowmaking; Secondly, a cold winter is also very necessary for making snow.”

Regarding whether hosting the Games would put pressure on water supplies, both Mr. Wei and Ms. Schimberg agreed that there is “absolutely no problem” with the venue clusters’ water supplies for snowmaking.

Aside from natural conditions being ideal for Winter Olympics events, Chongli has become an increasingly popular location for both professional skiing teams looking to train, as well as skiing hobbyists from all over the world. Deputy General Manager of Genting Ski Resort Song Zhiyong says his resort’s popularity is drawing more than tourists: “Back in 2004, I saw around 50 professional skiers from South Korea and Japan using Chongli’s ski resorts as training grounds,” Song said, “But these days the number is closer to 600. These numbers show that Chongli is an attraction to not just causal lovers of skiing, but those who require grade-A international standard slopes.”

Mr. Kim Taesoon, Vice President of the Korean Ski Association, has been sending South Korean skiers to train in Chongli since 2003. “Normally, we used to send our skiers to Europe to train, as we have always found it difficult to find training locations with snowfall greater than 40 cm in our own country,” Mr. Kim said, “but since Chongli began hosting FIS competitions in 2005, more and more Korean skiers head there each year to train for international skiing events.”

Mr. Wakatsuki Hitoshi of the Japanese Ski Association was one of the first to conduct FIS competitions in Chongli, and sends his skiers there each year due to its cost-efficient location with “very hard slopes and ground” that also appealed to the Japanese pro skiers.

Last to speak on the panel was special guest Mr. Ante Simonic, the former Vice Premier of Croatia, who also served as the Croatian ambassador to China from 2008 to 2013. Not only is Mr. Simonic a former Croatian rowing champion, but he is also an avid skier that has fallen in love with Chongli’s slopes since he first started skiing on them in 2008. “With Beijing’s outstanding organizational skills and Chongli’s quite fantastic natural conditions, I am confident that Beijing 2022 would make an enormous contribution to the global Olympic Movement. After all, an enormous market of 1.3 billion Chinese would serve as a tremendous driving force for the global winter sports market.”

A short clip, featuring Mojca Ogris Schimberg Deputy General Manager of Demaclenko, produced by SNTV is available via this link. 

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