A Chinese push to “own the podium” when that nation hosts the 2022 Winter Olympics will travel through a South Okanagan ski resort.
Baldy Mountain Resort has scored an international training coup, bringing the Chinese National Alpine teams to train this winter — and perhaps for winters to come.
“At the moment, we’ve got a memorandum of understanding signed,” explained Andy Foster, the resort’s general manager. “We’re just working out the details on how that’s going to move forward.”
The MOU was signed in Beijing in late June, members of the Baldy Mountain Resort team travelling to meet with members of the General Administration of Sports of China and China Ski Association representatives.
According to OutsideOnline.com, China is in the midst of “a massive and extraordinarily expensive top-down government directive to pump up a winter sports culture.”
That includes downhill and related ski disciplines.
“According to a report on the Chinese ski industry presented in 2016 at ISPO,” writer Tim Neville suggests, “China’s 50 ski areas logged a collective 300,000 visits in 2000. By July 2015, when Beijing won the Winter Games, the country had 568 ski areas and 12.5 million visits.”
“By hosting the Chinese Ski Team, we will be opening the door to some great marketing and relationship potential in China,” said Victor Tsao, Chairman of the Board for Baldy Mountain Resort.
“(And) we hope that seeing international athletes training on the mountain will also be a great influence on the younger generation skiing here and will lead to some local Olympians in the near future.”
How much training the Chinese team does at the mountain is still up for discussion. Mr. Foster could offer few specifics about scheduling and use beyond saying a deal is in place.
“It’s a really great step to take us forward and we’re really excited about it,” he said.
The one commitment he is prepared to make is to regular users of the mountain.
“It’s not going to really impact our regular users too much,” he said. “It really depends on what disciplines end coming up to the mountain.
“But it’s going to help our infrastructure grow and help take us forward.”