An influx of visitors to ski resorts is bringing more jobs to China’s winter sports industry, as the new ski season in northeast China’s Jilin Province is in full swing.
“There were more tourists learning to ski around New Year’s Day, and I had classes scheduled all day. I didn’t even have time for lunch,” says Zhang Zhanhua, a ski coach at a resort in Jilin City.
Zhang, 38, was a farmer ten years ago, when he noticed that visitors were piling into ski resorts nearby, resulting in a need for more coaches. Sensing an opportunity, Zhang began freelancing across various businesses, which eventually helped him become a full-time coach.
Working in such an industry has rendered him more than just a coach. Zhang also works for programs including water recreation, paragliding and mountain guiding at the resort, and more local farmers have started to involve themselves in the business, thanks to his influence.
Benefitting from the Beijing Winter Olympics, winter sports have caught on across China, as Zhang and his co-workers have started sharing videos online, presenting ice and snow to more people.
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A growing interest in skiing has naturally triggered a need for more equipment. A colleague of Zhang, Han Xue oversees ski rental services at the resort.
Over the past eight years, she has witnessed the flourishing demands for more gear and employees, with the sport emerging as a pop culture in China. “Eight years ago, we had 2,800 snowboards in stock, quite an oversupply. Now we have 4,000, but we still keep running out.”
The frequent use of snowboards wears them down, adding pressure on Yu Chunsheng, a repairman for ski equipment. “I used to do car assembly and maintenance, then I was introduced via a friend to work at the ski resort. And the pay is good,” said Yu.
Over eight years of kit maintenance, Yu has noticed that the number of Chinese snowboarders is rising. “Most of the equipment I worked on had been skis, but for the last two or three years, I’ve been repairing primarily snowboards,” he explained, adding that it shows a trend where Chinese skiers are coming up in numbers and keeping up with the latest trends.
Availing of the booming industry, delivery services are gaining ground. At a Deppon Express outlet in a ski resort in Jilin City, piles of ski equipment are packed up with each order checked by outlet manager Ma Junchi. Data showed that China’s express and delivery sector saw a 300 percent year-on-year increase in the 2021-2022 snow season alone, according to Ma.
A major Chinese logistics firm, Deppon has built up a domestic delivery service routing from 17 ski resorts to clients’ homes, leaving large-size snowboards to be delivered by couriers.
“The winter sports business is favored in this ski season by sectors like airlines and transportation. I believe such a service pattern will continue to benefit,” noted Ma.
Originally published by Xinhua