Chinese sportswear brands’ tech prowess on display at Beijing Winter Olympics
Published: Feb 07, 2022 08:12 PM
On October 27, Beijing Winter Olympic Games organizing committee unveils the staff outfits designed by Anta Sports. Photo: Courtesy of Beijing Winter Games organizing committee

On October 27, Beijing Winter Olympic Games organizing committee unveils the staff outfits designed by Anta Sports. Photo: Courtesy of Beijing Winter Games organizing committee

After Team China won their first gold medal at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games in the short-track speed skating mixed team relay on Saturday, their uniforms - and the technologies behind them - triggered widespread attention among the Chinese public, with many praising the rising technological capabilities of Chinese firms in making advanced sportswear that used to be dominated by foreign brands. 

The short track speed skating suit, developed by domestic firm Anta, has reached the lightest and most breathable level in the world, the company said. It employs drag reduction technology and Dyneema anti-cut technology to maximize the speed of athletes while ensuring their safety. 

Anta's windproof breathable tech, A-Cross DRI technology, air turbulence control and slip drag reduction technology adopted in ski suits, worn by rising star free skier Gu Ailing, are able to keep athletes sweat-free and warm, according the company.

Gu's freestyle skiing suit is windproof and waterproof, and it is tailored to ensure that she can move smoothly and freely.

Analysts said that such technologies are an embodiment of the nation's level of industrial manufacturing, material research and a slew of other related sectors. Considering the difficulty in manufacturing, the high-tech suits are some of the best examples of the advances and achievements of China's manufacturing and scientific research.

"The technologies have a wide range of applications, not only in clothing, but also in the medical sector, maritime activities, underwater vehicles, microfluid devices and pipeline transportation," an analyst in materials science based in Wuhan, Central China's Hubei Province, told the Global Times on Monday.

The material should be light and close-fitting, but also wear-resistant and resistant to cutting - prevent ice skate blade from injuring athletes, which brings the difficulty of manufacturing and research and development to a new level, said the analyst.

"Take the two most basic requirements - reducing resistance and preventing cutting - as examples. These two requirements can even be said to be completely contradictory, which stopped countless brands from developing. Finally Chinese brands broke the foreign monopoly," the analyst said.

The speed skating suit developed by Anta has been constantly tested in wind tunnels, and its surface uses a special structure to deflect air to effectively reduce drag. Anta's pro-grade hard core protection Dyneema anti-cut tech has won the ISPO Global Design Award.

Steel frame snowmobile shoes, Anta's first intelligent simulation design, can reduce wind resistance by 10 percent to help athletes speed up. This pair of shoes, compared with a pair from a top foreign brand, can help improve an athlete's performance by 0.054 seconds, according to Anta.

Lenovo Group also provided self-developed electrocardiography, which can help athletes receive high-frequency sampling through non-inductive wearable devices and form a set of intelligent training solutions.

Apart from Anta, domestic brand Li-Ning recently made its first foray into ski sports with the launch of its Li-Ning Snowboarding collection.

Guosen Securities said it is optimistic that domestic brands can take the opportunity of the Beijing Winter Olympics to achieve brand influence and recognition. 

Advanced technologies for sport equipment have fueled Chinese brands to go global.

According to AliExpress, overseas sales of Chinese ski products increased by more than 60 percent year-on-year during the Spring Festival holiday - from January 31 to Sunday - including a 15-fold increase in domestic ski helmets. 

On Tmall, sales of Chinese ski helmets increased by 174 percent year-on-year and those of ski trouser suits were up by more than 200 percent. Domestic ski brands such as Anta, Li-Ning, Vector and NANDN are all very popular and have seen their sales increasing significantly from last week, according to statistics sent to the Global Times from Tmall Global.

In the past year, consumers in 100 countries and regions around the world bought Chinese snow equipment on AliExpress. Buyers of Chinese ski and skating products are located as far north as Iceland and as far south as Chile. 

With the impact of the Winter Olympics, the number of domestic ski product brands on AliExpress increased by nearly 50 percent in one year.

The Beijing 2022 Games is expected to further drive the development of the ice and snow economy, as China plans to expand the scale of its ice and snow industry to 1 trillion yuan ($157.3 billion) by 2025. 

Local sports brands should actively seize the opportunity to create a multi-faceted layout, according to a report by Guosen Securities.