Increasingly crowded ski resorts show strong Olympic legacy
Published: Jan 15, 2023 11:36 PM
Illustration: Hang Dachuan/Global Times

Illustration: Hang Dachuan/Global Times

As China has reported declining numbers of fever patients and critical COVID-19 cases nationwide as both peaks have passed less than a month after the country optimized its epidemic response in early December 2022, the ski/snowboard market has skyrocketed as people's "retaliatory" skiing/snowboarding consumption has risen since New Year's Day. 

With the first snow season after the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics underway, Chinese social media platforms have been recently filled with videos and photos of skiing and snowboarding. Besides grownups and teenagers, many of the winter sports enthusiasts are children, some as young as 2 to 3 years old.

Although it has been 15 years, the Global Times reporter still vividly remembers the dream he had after his first taste of skiing: sliding down a hill on a pair of skis for the entire night. Although more than a decade has passed and his skiing skills haven't improved much, his passion for the sport has only grown stronger.

Apparently, more and more people in the country are enjoying the sport just as much as he is. 

In the first few years after he began skiing, very few people he knew had tried the sport, and many even thought it was something only meant for the bold. But over the following years, more and more people in his work and friend circles began trying their own hand at the sport. That number snowballed year after year following Beijing's successful bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics in 2015.

China surpassed its target of engaging 300 million people to participate in winter sports right before the start of the Beijing Winter Olympics. By January 2022, over 346 million people had taken part in winter sports activities since Beijing won its bid, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

Even during COVID-19, many people couldn't resist the temptation and would risk crowds of people to go skiing. However, with outbreaks occurring here and there throughout the pandemic, it was always difficult to purely enjoy the fun of skiing without worrying about contracting the virus. But now that worry is finally coming to an end. 

To the surprise of skiing lovers, most of Beijing's skiing resorts were open to skiers in early December 2022 as the country adapted its COVID-19 restrictions. But just as people were getting ready to embrace the sport they love after waiting an entire year, some of them were infected with COVID-19 and, to not risk infecting others, they decided to wait nearly a month after they got negative test results before heading back out again. Now with the country entering a new phase of COVID-19 measures, they were finally able to return to the beloved skiing resorts. 

Life is really getting back to normal. The resorts near Beijing were a sea of people everywhere.

Over the weekend at the Yuyang Ski Resort in east Beijing's Pinggu district, it could take 15 minutes for one to queue up and get a card for skiing.

Except for those with their own gear, most people needed to rent everything from the resort: skis, snowboards, suits, boots, helmets, gloves, etc. Basically, they had to queue up a few minutes for every item and it could take another 20-30 minutes before they were      finally ready to set foot on the slopes.

Skiing is fun, despite the process leading up to it. On Saturday in Yuyang Ski Resort, there were already too many people. They had to queue about 10 minutes to get on the magic carpets or chairlifts to the top of the pistes. And after all that waiting they finally came to the fun part. Darting down the slopes makes all the waiting worthwhile. 

Despite all the inconvenience the huge crowds bring, it felt really great to see people finally coming out to enjoy life without worrying about the pandemic.

According to statistics, since December 2022, searches for "skiing/snowboarding" in Beijing has increased 182 percent month-on-month, and purchases of skiing/snowboarding packages have increased six times month-on-month. 

Many ski resorts across the country ushered in the first wave of the peak season on New Year's Day. There is good reason to believe that the ski/snowboard industry will recover and rise to new heights soon.