In this webinar we talk about ski patrol in China, and the impact of the 2022 Winter Olympic bid.

Full Transcript:

Duncan: Hello everyone and good morning all, good evening from, good afternoon from wherever you are. Welcome to this webinar with Medic 52 and we’re going to talk today about the recent announcement of the Winter Olympics in 2022 that has now been ordered to Beijing in China over Almaty. Today’s guest is Gary Grant, Gary is a ski resort, I’m going to try to get this right, ski resort consultant, and he helps resorts mainly in Asia and Australia get planning and execution rights of everything that a ski resort does. All the way from grooming through to guest services and indeed ski patrol. And as a ski patroller himself we thought it would be an awesome idea to have Gary come along and have a conversation about what is going on in China at the moment in the ski industry, and what it’s like to actually be a ski patroller there as well. So a little bit of housekeeping, if you do get knocked off the call please go back on to medic52.com/webinar and just reload that page and you can come along and rejoin. And of course, you can view this on YouTube or through the Google Plus page without being signed into Google. If you want to ask a question please comment below the video, or if you are in the Google Hangout system please push the button and use the system on the right hand side to ask that question. We’ll field those questions as we go a little bit later on. Alright, so the other item I just have to put out there is that the 2015 Medic 52 World Ski Patroller Survey is now available online. So you can go to medic52.com/survey and that’s now available to download. Lots of very, very interesting information there from the 600 odd respondents we have from the survey. So let’s move on. Gary are you there?

Gary: I am. Good morning.

Duncan: Hey Gary. So Gary would you like to just give us a bit of an intro about yourself and about what it is that you do, probably a little bit better than I just did.

Gary: Oh I thought you did quite well, I quite liked it. Yeah, I’ve been patrolling for 35 years so that’s that side of it. I did, I started as a ski instructor as a bit of a part time job and saw that patrolling seems like a much more interesting pass time so got involved there. And that’s in both Australia, Canada, Japan and Korea. Most of it of course is in Australia, but I worked, because I lived in Canada, I lived in Ottawa for a couple of years. I worked as patroller in Quebec as a paid patroller over there, as a sort of part time paid patroller for a period of time. Spent a lot of time skiing around the world training patrollers as I said, examining patrollers, in Perisher I was both the captain for a while before moving to president and I just sat on a number of stated national bodies and set up a lot of their education systems. I love my snow sport so much I ended up being involved and becoming a, in the ski resort industry, and 12 years I was a general manager at Perisher and that, actually Perisher Blue at that time. And involved in looking after the marketing, sales, the guest services, hospitalities in beverage, resort services, media, a whole range of different areas. Left that in 2010 and I’ve become more involved in wider tourism and working with the government bodies, and when I left Perisher I did some consulting work but was asked to come to China to have a look at some resort developments over there. And I found myself very quickly reviewing snow sports resorts mainly, but also other types of resorts. Because the Chinese are very much becoming in tune with the fact that resorts need to be a full year round destination and have a variety of activities, skiing alone won’t sustain them. As part of that I got asked to have a look at the initial plans of Secret Garden or Genting Secret Garden. Which is the, one of the locations that have been chosen for the 2022 Olympic Games. At that time it was just plans and a valley, and after some modifications of what we believe the plans could be they started the development and in its first, and Chinese do things very quickly, so we’re literally talking one year later we have one 5 star hotel operating, we have 4 lifts in and we’re on the way completing our second hotel. At that stage I was reviewing the development and the owner said well could you stay? I had no intensions of staying, but I actually then agreed I’d do the first winter for him. So 2 winters and 2 summers later I finally left. We got it to a stage where it was ready for the bid, it’s got a way to go, but it’s moving in that right direction. In the past 5 years though I’ve also completed a PHD in ski resort guest expectations and satisfactions and management strategies to increase revisitation. And that was based on studies here in Australia and has now been conducted in Canada, in Japan and in China. So it’s been an interesting journey for 35 years, but I’ll say the last 5 have been the most interesting. And has got me to places, into India, into China, into Mongolia where their snow sports is emerging as an activity. And it’s quite exciting to be part of that at ground roots level. And having the Olympics is a bonus, a big bonus and a major thing for the Chinese snow sports industry and I believe snow sports worldwide.

Duncan: Absolutely. So there’s been a bit of, I don’t know, I’m going to say controversy about this 2022 bid with regards to the perhaps lack of choice between Almaty and Beijing. Do you want to tell us a little bit about that?

Gary: Well it became a choice, they had their 5 nominees, but then they slowly dropped out for various reasons, and a large part of that is cost. Running the Olympic Games is not a cheap activity. It’s very expensive whether it’s summer or winter and Norway was the last one to drop out and they did it by referendum. And they’re still struggling after their last Winter Olympics which was certainly a world run event, but it cost a lot of money. With China, one of the infrastructures was planned to be in place regardless. Now we have the resort area which is to be like a garden area of Beijing, as Beijing expands it’s a recreation zone which had been developed that was, we’ll say between 3 and 5 hours at the moment depending on traffic to get to this. So you get out of the Beijing smog, you get up into the mountains where it’s really beautiful and really clean. The Great Wall sort of skirts around it, on top of the mountains there you look up north towards Mongolia. It’s very green in summer, but very, very dry in winter. The controversies were mainly cost, it gave China an advantage because they’re going to reuse a lot of their facilities for the summer. The road network was in, the rail network was going in, the resorts were there. So that will help minimise the cost for this. Sochi certainly scared a lot of countries. It was a very expensive Olympics and they’re going to be spending money for years to fix a lot of problems that were created in Sochi while it was constructed.

Duncan: So largely a financial thing, but I guess as well from the recent Summer Olympics that Beijing hosted, that’s going to stand them in good stead.

Gary: Oh, certainly will they did a good job, but it’s controversy over water as well in China and ski resorts require a lot of water. And especially in China where you rely on manmade snow to ensure that you have sufficient, although that’s becoming quite common in other countries as well. I think we’re experiencing that here in Australia right at the moment, if not for snow making we wouldn’t be having the facilities we have right now. And we’re seeing that in Europe, we’re seeing that in North America, but in China they’re dependent upon snow making. We received about average 80 centimeters of snow per year natural, a good year would be 120 which we had. We also had a bad year which was if we got 10 to 15 we were lucky and snow making ensured that we continued. So with appropriate planning and proper facilities we can get the snow making working very well and efficient. That’s certainly been one of the comments that has been coming up in the media that how do you run a Winter Olympics when you have to make snow. But it’s easily made by the people who don’t understand that Vancouver made snow, Sochi made snow, they all made snow for the games. And manmade snow, you don’t ski downhill on natural snow.

Duncan: Yeah, that’s what I heard they prefer the manmade snow because it’s a little bit harder wearing and easy to get into.

Gary: Oh, and it’s been well worked to be frozen solid and that’s what they’re after, not only the competitors, but that’s what gives it the edge that’s required.

Duncan: Right. So the industry in China it sounds like it’s growing just as fast as everything else in China at the moment. So is participation similar to what you might find in the US or Canada in that people become seasonal skiers and are back year in year out?

Gary: It’s getting there yes, certainly I had guests that when I first went there I met in the first year and I met them each winter and a number of them in summer as well they come back with their mountain bikes. So we installed that. It’s growing a rapid rate for sure. 1996 it was estimated to be only 10,000 skiers in China, and that had grown 2010 to they believe round about 5 million. And in the next 5 years up until now it’s believed to be somewhere between 10 and 15 million. The expectation was it would reach 15 million by 2015. It wasn’t growing at the rate they expected it to and there is a whole ranges of reasons for that, but I think the Olympics certainly pushed this on. But let’s say they got 10 million, that’s certainly a good start on numbers and beats a lot of other locations. And for a country that’s really just getting involved that’s been quite a rapid rate of increase. The difference with China though is for every one skier or boarder that you have on the mountain you’ll have probably 3 to 5 additional guests who accompany them to be part of the experience but they don’t actually get on the mountain because there’s a safety aspect to it, it’s new, they’re concerned about a whole range of aspects to the skiing that some of us now take for granted. But that’s all part of setting up the safe systems, the proper training systems ensuring there’s appropriate rental equipment and it’s all properly tuned and selected and so on. So there’s many things that China, when they started their resorts a lot of them didn’t do that. You had your exceptions Yabili for example and then the Italians would do a meeting that they set ground work for the expansions and the changes by putting western and European methodologies in place. Unfortunately they were not successful because they weren’t planned appropriate for the market at the time. And so they are all going through rapid and rather large changes now in order for them to continue being good resorts.

Duncan: Right so they kind of started large and are now seeing how the market’s behaving and they have to sort of rebuild and reinvent as the perception and the potential participation changes.

Gary: Well it certainly started large, but not as large as they’re going to be and not as large as some of the new ones. It was more the combination of runs that were put in. You’ve got a market that’s emerging in the snow sports industry and it has mainly first timer and beginner, and a few intermediate and very few advanced, so you build a resort for advanced skiers. It didn’t work. So what they’re doing now is they’re re-planning those resorts so there’s more of those beginner and intermediate facilities. And much more than what we would see in the west, a few of them are a bit more advanced, but the ability to expand and to modify over time. And so the Secret Garden is an example of that. It’s a large area, it’s not yet utilising all of that area, but as it moves towards the Olympics that we’re talking for them it’s only a 12 year journey or so to get there. Where it will go from a farming valley to a major international resort catering for 19,000 skiers on a day. Accommodation for up to 30,000 and in a 100 square kilometer area. So they’re not insignificant sizes in the resorts, but what was lacking was the appropriate planning to cater for the particular market they had, and then to grow with that market and be able to modify and keep adding the facilities that the market was demanding and that’s our plan. We’ll be opening as a snow sport, a snow play and we’ll get an area this year so they’re literally digging a hole in the ground now and we’ve got 3 months to get ready, but when the first runs go in we’ll be catering more to the beginner and intermediates.

Duncan: As a developing industry then I assume there’s quite a few people like ourselves that are coming in from outside to inject that knowledge in order to make that growth happen a bit quicker. I mean there’s a certain amount of learning you can do as you go, but I’m assuming that there’s a lot of external input that’s coming along into China to assist with that?

Gary: There certainly is. You’ve got your major resort planners from North America and from Europe in place there and they’re now involved in the planning process. And we’ve seen some very large resorts coming up. Hang on I’ve just someone at the door, I’m on webinar. Sorry just had someone walk in on us. We’ve got some major, as I said we’ve got some major players and we’ve also got a large number of consultants moving into the place. You’ve got your good ones and your bad ones. People see it, it’s like all development in China at the moment a lot of people are seeing advantages there and jumping in quickly. And we’ve seen that with a number of resorts where the poor planning was not as a result of the Chinese, it was they accepted the decisions made by foreigners. And they put into place something that was inappropriate for the market at the time. Hence the cost now of redesigning and rebuilding them. And a number of the big older ones are going through this right now. We’ve certainly seen in in the equipment sales and a whole range of things that are going on in China. Some of the people have taken advantage of the past but the Chinese are quite savvy to that at this stage and will continue to develop and grow as they get better understanding of what’s going on. But yes you are right, there’s a lot of them there. Not a lot staying around and running the resorts, we’re seeing that starting to happen. I certainly from what I understand when I was told I was the longest serving foreigner running a resort. We had it I believe at Yabali when Intrawest owned that they brought people over and now there for sure. Dolomiti’s got Italians there now and the GM of that has come in, he’s been there in the past and other locations. So we’re seeing them taking on more foreigners to get that experience. But at the same time they’re wanting to get their own people overseas to gain the experience. And that’s been difficult because of the language. Even here in Australia, we’ve got, we do have some of the Chinese now in resorts here, but of course because of our Visa requirements on the language it makes it very difficult for them and so we have a lot of the Chinese staff undergoing intensive training in English at the moment so they can get through the various Visa requirements. But I’m hoping in the next few years with the Olympics coming up there may be some relaxing of those rules to allow us to bring those people in to gain greater experience. In here, Canada for sure, definitely in the US and we want to get them all around the world as much as possible.

Duncan: So I mean given that outside influence I mean I would assume that the kind of lift systems and lots of the technology and stuff that’s being used in these resorts is also coming externally. So Doppelmayr and Poma lifts for example.

Gary: Definitely. We were at the Doppelmayr resort at the time, we had the latest of the chandala the gondola 6 seated chair. So fully heated cabins, fully heated chairs in bubbles. 4 seater and 6 seater gondola chairs, heated seats, bubbles. They were quite different to what a number of other resorts have put in though the Chinese do make lifts. Poma definitely there, I know are made with Dolomiti the Poma lifts in and they are being more competitive in that market. But the Chinese as I said make their own lifts and a lot of those resorts have put in Chinese lifts to start with. And for those here in Australia so you’re looking at riding the Perisher double chair for example or the old Cannibal chair and thread bow. And these are fine, they work, they meet their purpose. But China is very cold as well for a few of those months so you need to try and create an environment for the guests that’s enjoyable. And if you’re going to sit on a long slow chair, for those who were in Red Mountain many years ago by the time you got to the top of Red Mountain in British Columbia you were frozen because it was a long slow double chair. And so you need to speed up that process and integrate comfort. And we’re starting to see that now as the newer resorts are putting in they say more modern chairs, but the Chinese at the same time have advanced their development and they’ve got, their first gondola went in last year in a ski resort they built them before the first one and that was in Wolong which is in the same area, which is about to undergo a major expansion and almost triple in size in the number of ski runs. And that’s right next door to Secret Garden it’s all part of this Olympic venue area. They have put in a number of newer Chinese chairs. They built their first grooming machine last year, I get to see it in operation. It’s certainly it’s the standard machines that we see like a Kässbohrer. The same machines we see in all our resorts around the world. So European equipment, ski equipment, again they do make their own, but most of the resorts are running the same type of skis and snowboards that we see. Burton’s playing there big time putting equipment in, putting its regular parks run trying to develop snowboarding. So in a lot of ways you can walk into these resorts and they’re very much what you’ll see in the resorts in any country in the world. When you look closer you start to see the differences.

Duncan: Right sure. So given this kind of growth let’s talk a little bit about safety and ski patrol. That’s clearly developing as well and again I assume that there’s some outside influence that’s being injected to help those patrol systems and safety systems come together?

Gary: Yeah, unfortunately it was probably the last thing on their mind when booking new resorts. And one of the things when I was asked to look at Secret Garden was to he wanted it, he said I want the place to run and operate and see if I can pick the whole thing up and place it on country by Canada or places like Australia or New Zealand and it would reach their requirements from the safety and legal aspect. He was, the owner saw where China was moving and it was going to go through the same evolution we have in our countries. Australia has the safety requirements, litigation and everything else. And what we did was start to look at what was needed, but the first thing I did was to look at what was already in existence in China and there wasn’t much in the sense of skiing patrol. Yes they had ski patrol in the mountain, but their job they were just local boys whose job was really just to put up some fences, safety fences. And they have a lot more fences than we have here they’re literally, you get most of the resorts the courses, the runs are like racecourses in the sense of them being there lining most of them. They’re very conscious about running off the slopes. Remember it’s manmade so that’s the best snow sitting right there and if you get off piste unless it’s a good year you’re going to be in some difficulty. So ski patrol set up the fences, set up very little signage, very little safety signage. There was a version of the Alpine Responsibility Code in a few resorts, but didn’t exist in most. And the training of patrollers was extremely basic first aid, extremely basic. And the amount of equipment they had, some had imported especially the earlier ones and the ones that Intrawest was involved in for example. Similar equipment as in Akja’s and Cascades, but others were using a Chinese version which is actually quite good, I was very impressed with it but the training was lacking. So that was the thing we started to look at how we could put in a system. And I started from scratch really with my guys and took them back to the basics and worked them through. And started buying equipment and training them the appropriate equipment as we went on and other resorts decided to watch that and so they would copy it. And it will continue because it’s an area that they hadn’t made plans for.

Duncan: So that would kind of imply then that there’s not a national system in place yet like you would have with the NSP for example or the CSP in Canada?

Gary: Exactly. And what I did was I look at those systems and places and I said okay what can we say, how can we copy them, what can we put in place and buy patrollers from other countries over to assist in the training and trying to encourage them to come up with a national system. It doesn’t have a national system, they have a Chinese Ski Association the government body, but it really only looks at alpine skiing. They just started the national snowboard body and that was started by a European, an Austrian who was married to a Chinese snowboarder, one of the first international snowboarders, and the instructions runs under the CSA so it’s not internationally recognised and ski patrol had nothing. So yes there is need for somehow pulling it together and our goal at Secret Garden was to create a system that others could look at and say okay this is what we need to do, we need take what they’ve got and emulate it across the other resorts. And then certainly it’s on going that one, again they didn’t see it as a major priority.

Duncan: And obviously there’s 7 years until the World Winter Olympics and so there’s plenty of time to kind of get some of those thing rectified before I guess that will rectify itself as it were. Like you say it’s an ongoing process. But that’s surely going to have an impact on return rates and so forth if people are having an injury and needing to be treated and cared for. So do they have medical facilities in resorts or is it like a ski patrol based facility for some treatment while they await transport?

Gary: It varies from resort to resort, but on the whole, it reminded me very much when I was working in Canada in the early 90’s is that we didn’t have onsite doctors in some of the resorts I was in. You had that base facility that was well equipped, it was really a holding station so the ambulance can take you off to a hospital. And we at Secret Garden we employed doctors, so we had a doctor and a nurse, well we employed the doctor the nurse was supplied by the local hospital it was on a rotational basis, and that was different to a number of the other resorts, but again that changed in my second year because the other resorts had put in doctors as well. So they was seeing the need to improve what they were doing. So it was very quickly, that’s one thing that happens in China things do happen quickly. So once they see an advancement, they see an innovation that should be copied they’ll do that. And we started to see that move across a number of the other resorts, especially in my area which we had quite a few resorts of course and two more to open this year in the same area, and it’s the area where the Olympics is and they will butt on to one another. So safety will become a greater concern certainly from the resort owner and he was not Chinese he was actually Malaysian or it was a combination of owners but the major one apparently was Malaysian. But he’d skied around the world and he’d seen what was required. The Chinese yes safety is a major factor especially for the children so the safer you can make it the more chance you’ve got of them coming back. But that’s all part of the experience in any sport you do. You want to know that yes I’m going to have a great time, I’m going to be thrilled and excited and I’m going to push myself to that edge, but should I go over that edge I like to know that there’s someone there to look after me and the Chinese is no different to anywhere else in that. And it was interesting how quickly the ski patrol took on what they were being taught. They really wanted to learn more and they really wanted to offer that service if required. And you’re right, Olympics will force them to it. There will be no holding back now, that will be an absolute requirement, but the Chinese the government itself is enforcing safety rules and regulations all over the country and trying to catch up with what’s happening in the rest of the world.

Duncan: So, we have a question here from Jay, is there any innovation that you’re seeing in China that you’re not seeing kind of elsewhere or it’s not being influenced from elsewhere? Is there anything that the Chinese are doing particularly differently?

Gary: In the sense of safety they’re doing it differently as I said with the way they lay the majority of their courses with netting, and we’re talking race netting, but at the same time there are things that they wouldn’t, they didn’t pad the snow gun outlets, the faucets and so we changed that. So on one hand they’d emulate certain things they had and copy others, there’s nothing that I would say the Chinese are doing differently in the snow sports and it’s very new for them. And they’re catching up with what’s been done in the west I would say in terms of safety. Some of the newer ones they’re definitely close, but they’ve got more work to do in the training. In equipment and so forth no, not yet. They’re not being, the new ones they realise there can’t be a western resort in China. What they have to do is take the best of the western resorts and make a Chinese resort out of them. And so we’re starting to see some there, even in food and beverage some of them were trying to serve purely western food to start with because that’s what you, when you go to a western resort and there’s a particular type of food and well every north American resort you go to it’s the same, Australian resorts the same, and depending where the owners have been they wanted that. The market wasn’t accommodating so they modified it. Ski rental, one thing I will say is they certainly they build things bigger than what we see in the west. So the rental halls are bigger, the ticket areas are larger, the parking areas are larger, everything you see is on a much grander scale. And there was, certainly Secret Garden there was an amazing amount of room and for the future expansions with the numbers we had to, where we’re going we’ll see that. But no, from the safety point of view, no not yet. Nothing new or innovative other than I did mention the Chinese Akja or the Chinese seats. I liked it, it was a combination of a Cascade and an Akja. It had an interesting breaking system on it, it was modifiable in a number of ways through to accommodate the patient to make them comfortable. And there was certain things on it that I didn’t like, if the patient could be transported in a way that was inappropriate for the injury as well. So they needed to do a little modification when I got there.

Duncan: And we have another question here as well. Do they have a volunteer / paid patroller system in China in the same way that we might have in Australia or in Canada for example?

Gary: No. Volunteering in China is not a big thing. Yeah you will see volunteers to a degree at Olympic Games, major sporting events is certainly growing, but I had this discussion at length with them and it’s something which we believed will grow because we’re looking at volunteer hosts and things like that. Some way of encouraging the local population to be more involved in the activities up there. Now with the Olympics that was something we need to grow. But at this stage the patrols are purely a paid patrol and we’ll have to see where that goes. Certainly I was trying to encourage it with a number of local skiers who were good skiers and they were interested, but they didn’t want to do it as a full time thing. They just was wanting to give back because they said that they felt that they could help the industry grow and was there something they could do and that was one of the areas we were looking at. But firstly we put them on as mountain hosts and had a volunteer mountain host system. So that’s the beginning of the volunteer system there.

Duncan: Right, good that was a good question there from Jay. Thank you. Next one, Adam. Adam says he’s a Chinese speaking ski and snowboard instructor from the UK. Hi Adam. How do you see the Chinese instruction systems progressing? Do you see the CSA doing their own thing? Or do you think China will import one of the foreign systems currently being taught?

Gary: Individual resorts are looking at it in different ways at the moment. I encouraged some of the members of the CSA who I met with to look at what was happening overseas and they should join the international body and sort of have a standard similar that would allow the Chinese instructors to gain an accreditation to work anywhere in the world. At the moment the CSA qualification needs to be recognised. A number of the resorts are looking around, we have 2 of them in Australia at the moment and they’re looking at both the New Zealand and the Australian system. And they will be, if it all goes according to the way they told me it will, they will be having those people go over and start running clinics and so forth and trying to give a qualification like an APSI or New Zealand one which will then give that level of qualification to allow those people to work in the countries that recognise them. Certainly the Swiss, the Austrians are there, I’m in discussions with Germans at the moment with this new resort which is south of Beijing. And they may be involved in the initial running of the ski school in its first year and we’re setting up their accreditation system there and utilising theirs. And Laax, the Swiss resort is heavily involved as well and trying to give us Swiss qualification. So we’re seeing the foreigners coming in to provide that next level of education, that next level of training and that level of service that we see in the western ski schools which was lacking in the Chinese ski schools. So I would like, and the Chinese are proud people and I would like to see that they adopt, similar to what I sad earlier, the best of the best and come up with a system that is internationally recognised. And I believe they will do that, but in the meantime we’ll see the foreign ski systems getting involved there because they’re already in place and these resorts are hungry to get moving and to have a system they can promote and encourage people to visit their particular resorts. I hope that answers his question, it’s real hard it could go either way.

Duncan: Yeah absolutely, it sounds like there’s going to be some kind of wrestling going on and some juggling of various bits and pieces from all over the place.

Gary: Definitely, and it goes back to what I said earlier on language yeah. The problem is, and I expect a number and myself was there at Secret Garden trying to get training from overseas and they weren’t prepared to offer an accreditation unless the exam was done in their particular language. Whether that be done in English, whether that be done in German. And that was difficult because a lot of the instructors aren’t capable of that. But then we had a few of them say okay what we’ll do if you can help us we’ll translate everything. And that’s where it’s starting to open up to these countries who are willing to be a bit more flexible and see the advantages for themselves for getting involved in China and offering their system. And so it’s an understanding that the Chinese language is difficult for us, but English is not an easy language either. And it needs to be that understanding from foreign countries to be a bit more flexible, a bit more adaptable and then they’ll get greater involvement in China.

Duncan: And adopting, like you say, the cultural barriers and getting over those as well probably has some understanding as well as having just the communication over too.

Gary: Yeah, the Chinese don’t want to have an American resort planted on them, they want a Chinese resort with the best of the American resorts and the best of Germany resorts and the best of the Australians. And they want to have those great facilities, but they just don’t have that imposed upon them. Because they do things and they have different likes than what we have.

Duncan: So one last question before we wrap up. Again from Adam so thank you Adam, why do you think the Olympics went to the Yanqing cluster of resorts rather than the established north eastern resorts such as Changbaishan and Yabuli and so forth?

Gary: That was part, China wants to be the first country to actually hold a Summer Olympics, Summer and Winter Olympics in the one location. So actually it’s set in Beijing and that’s the bid for the games it’s the Beijing bid. The ice sports and many of the sports will actually be held in the old, in the Summer Olympic facilities. We’ve been, we hold events in the Birdcage winter events, we had the World Cup Aerials, we had big air events we had some rail jams. Quite largely some of the world’s best came to China to compete. So they will reuse those facilities and the snow sports by pushing up into that area, it’s part of the government move to create a recreation sports zone that accommodates the wider, larger Beijing area. Yeah, you’ve got Beijing itself of 23 odd million, but in the wider Beijing maybe 27 but when you go and start going to the cities that’s around it you’re getting larger numbers. And I guess you heard recently they’re going to allow Beijing to grow to over 100 million, and that will absorb this current area we’re talking about. So then we have a major sport recreation green zone as part of the Beijing cluster. The others are further away from Beijing so it just goes down to the requirement of what’s it going to cost when you put in the bob sleds, the ski jumps, the ice skating facilities, it all adds to the cost. And Beijing is saying we can keep it down by reusing old facilities and that means the IOC requirements that they’re trying to bring the cost of these events down. It also was developing an area that was an underdeveloped and a very poor area and so it’s giving greater opportunities to local populations and jobs and futures for them. So again it’s part of that legacy involvement. When the Olympics are over there’s going to be a lot happening in this particular area. Transport is easy so you can be into Beijing, the very fast train will be there next year, it should be. So you’ve got a 50 minute ride from Beijing and you’re there. Then you get onto the bus and you attend a number of resorts. It really goes down to Beijing’s bid wasn’t Yanuli’s bid or anything else, it was a Beijing bid for the Olympics. And they didn’t want to put athletes on a plane from Beijing after they’ve done, well the reporters and the media. Well look, the last few, Torino one of the greatest complaints was from the media about they couldn’t get to events. Vancouver, as good as it was the media had trouble even though they had a new highway getting between events. So if you’re going to put something 500, 600 well more than that, almost 1000 kilometres away it’s going to make it even more difficult. But yeah, I’ll go back it was a Beijing bid that was what they went for, they could have easily gone for another location, but this will give an area a number of great facilities. It will help showcase Beijing which is improving weekly they are cleaning their act up greatly. In my time there I’ve seen the city clean itself up. Still got a long way to go, its people seem to be supportive from those I read. So they had a lot of strong support to do it again. Yeah, there’s a lot of reasons for picking Beijing but it was a case they could have wanted to do it in Shanghai, but it was just that’s where they wanted to put their bid.

Duncan: There you go, cool. Alright well, look I think I can speak for everyone, this has been fascinating actually to learn a little bit about China and certainly the development of the ski economy over there. A little bit about the ski patrol and obviously about Beijing in 2022. And I think it will be very interesting to have this conversation again perhaps in a couple of years’ time and see how that progress is going and moving that trajectory and how everything is changing on the way to the Olympics.

Gary: It certainly will. It’s even since the announcement really talking about 2 weeks. There’s some big chats with some of my big staff in Chongli and they’re just going with the pictures of the development, it’s already taken off massively. So they’re already, they’re working towards it. We see a little farming village now into a major 40 to 50,000 bed city I suppose and continuing to grow to service the needs of what’s coming up.

Duncan: So Gary, if someone wants to get in touch with you, use your services or perhaps even ask more questions how would they go about doing that?

Gary: Yeah, just through my email that’s probably the best way because wherever I am in the world at the time I’m always checking emails.

Duncan: Alright, well Gary look thank you very much I appreciate your time and from us at Medic 52 we’ll sign off here. Don’t forget that the World Ski Patroller Survey is now available as well medic52.com/survey. And thank you very much Gary.

Gary: You’re welcome. I suppose we should do a little plug for Medic 52 in the sense that we do have a almost Chinese version of it. I did translate that while I was over in China and it was one thing, it’s not yet implemented, but there’s a strong interest in getting that started in a couple of larger resorts and my new one will be using it.

Duncan: Excellent, on its way. Alright well thank you very much Gary and everyone have a good day and ski safe.

Contact Gary by email: blueridge@internode.on.net.

Beijing will become the first city to ever host both the Winter and Summer Olympics. Photo: Beijing 2022 Olympic committee

Duncan Isaksen-Loxton

Duncan Isaksen-Loxton

Founder, CEO at Medic52
A lifetime skier and ski patroller of 14 years, mobile & web developer, Duncan is the author of ‘The Smartphone Medic’, and the founder of Medic52, following his passions of helping people and technology.
Duncan Isaksen-Loxton