Expert: Chinese athletes have good chance in freestyle skiing events
A skier at a ski field at Chongli, one of the venues for events for the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in China in 2022. [Photo/VCG]
With China hosting the 2022 Winter Olympics, now is the perfect time to promote winter sports, encourage beginners to become long-term participants and nurture interest at the grassroots level, according to a Swiss freestyle skiing expert.
Reto Poltera, director of freestyle skiing at the Laax ski resort in Switzerland, said: "The movement of freestyle is very close to Chinese martial arts, which has been practiced in China over the centuries."
In freestyle, the skier uses natural and man-made features, such as rails, jumps and boxes to perform tricks.
Because of a strategic partnership between Laax and Genting Resort Secret Garden, Poltera is a consultant at the Chinese resort, which is in Chongli, a four-hour drive north of Beijing and which will be the host venue for the next Winter Olympics. The Freestyle Academy in Laax provides basic training to freestyle skiers and Poltera is helping Secret Garden build a similar facility in China, so more Chinese people can learn about freestyle skiing and boarding.
Although Chinese snowboarding and freestyle skiing are in their infancy, Poltera is certain they will catch on.
"I am 100 percent sure they will grow, because Chinese people have the athletic mentality and they also have the philosophy of having fun," he said. "Fun and freestyle are intertwined."
He explained that, when he was in Beijing, he saw "young people there have the lifestyle similar to the ones who like surfing and skateboarding".
"This lifestyle can be easily transferred to snowboarding and freestyle skiing," he said.
At the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics, China pocketed nine medals and competed in 12 sports, including in bobsleigh, skeleton and ski jumping for the first time.
Liu Jiayu won a silver medal in the women's halfpipe, which was the first medal China has ever won in a snowboarding event.
Wu Dajing won a gold medal in the men's 500-meter short-track speed-skating while also breaking the world record, becoming the first male short-track speed-skater from China to win a gold in the event at an Olympics.
Poltera said China could do even better in 2022.
"In the traditional skiing disciplines, like downhill or slalom, it might be more difficult for the Chinese to do well, but in freestyle disciplines, they are normally better than the Europeans and Americans and I think they have a big chance."
Poltera said the Chinese government should take advantage of the opportunity to develop grassroots interest in winter sports in the run-up to the 2022 Winter Olympics.
If the kids have the chance to try winter sports and grow a deep interest in snow, they will want to go again to repeat this feeling, he said.
"They will remember their whole life about this feeling," he said.