Asian Winter Olympics open door to snow business

Mon Feb 16, 2015 6:07pm EST
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By Steve Keating

BEAVER CREEK, Colorado (Reuters) - With the next two Winter Olympics to be staged in Asia, the International Ski Federation (FIS) will have a rare opportunity to grow snow sports in the world's most populous continent but the seeds they plant are unlikely to bear fruit for generations to come.

The 2018 Winter Games set for the South Korean resort of Pyeongchang and with either Almaty, Kazakhstan or Beijing to be awarded the 2022 Winter Olympics, the ski industry will gain an entry point into the sporting world's most coveted market.

New skiers from China and India filling chair lifts and resorts sprinkled across the Himalayas and seriously challenging for medals at Olympics and world championships may be a far-off dream but for FIS, it is the future they are pursuing today.

"It is important there is no question, we need new countries that have money now and organizations and that's Asia," FIS president Gian-Franco Kasper told Reuters. "You see it in the financial world and it is exactly the same, everything moves eastwards.

"Of course we don't have to be every time in Asia but I think it is important for us that we have new countries, new ski resorts.

"In Kazakhstan the mountains are more or less unused and this would be a great opportunity.

"In Beijing you are in a newly developed ski area. We don't want all Chinese skiing, one percent would be enough.

"It is a rare opportunity for us."   Continued...