A bird's-eye view of Taiwu skiing village. (Photo provided to China Daily)
China's skiing enthusiasts will have more chances to show their skills as the once less-popular winter sport is luring more commercial capital and getting more marketable.
Sina Sport, China's premier online sport content provider under internet giant Sina Group, made a foray into alpine skiing after it organized the Asian Youth Ice Hockey League last year to get more Chinese people involved in winter sports in the run-up to the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Magic Ski - Sina Cup Alpine Skiing Open, another Sina sport's self-IPR tournament after the 3-to-3 basketball league and 5-to-5 basketball league, attracted more than 1,000 skiers nationwide at four stages from Beijing to Harbin from December to January.
More than 200 skiers participated in the Chongli competition as individuals or representing their skiing clubs on Saturday. Chongli county in North China's Hebei province, about 260 km northwest of Beijing's suburbs, is one of the major 2022 Olympics skiing competition areas.
Wei Jianglei, senior vice-president of Sina Group and general manager of Sina Sport, said Sina's great tap into commercial sport competitions is owed to a document issued by the State Council in 2014 directing the sport industry and promoting sport compensation. The document exempts administration approval of commercial and mass sport competitions.
"Before the document was carried out, it is impossible or very difficult for non-official institutes to organize sport competitions. Now more sport lovers can get a chance to compete," Wei said.
According to Wei, the fourth version of 3-to-3 and the third of 5-to-5 leagues will attract nearly 100,000 players nationwide in 2018. Another 14 sports, including body building, figure skating and cross country races, will be added to Sina's commercial sport competition list this year.
"What Sina is superior at is we are sport media ourselves. We know how to cover and promote sport on different platforms."
Wei's optimism about the future of skiing also owes to the growing winter sport facilities. China had about 620 skiing fields nationwide by the end of 2017 and the number will climb to nearly 800 this year. A high speed rail scheduled to completed in 2019 will shorten the now 3-hour drive to 40 minutes from suburban Beijing to Chongli county.
Taiwu skiing village, where the Sina skiing open Chongli stage was held, is multifunctional, with skiing, training, accommodation, catering, meeting space and recreation. In summer, it will be transferred into a cross-country and mountain biking resort.
"Our job is to let more people know there is more fun than the sport...so people will go and do the sport and the country will be strong in the sport," Wei said.
Wei said the government should further do its part in planning of sport infrastructure and related supporting facilities. For sport enterprises, more favorable taxation and pricing policies are needed.
How long it will take to profit from a sport? Wei, a marathon runner himself, said he believes the journey will be a marathon.
"Profiting in three to five years is usual," he said.