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SIA President Nick Sargent: Winter sports is a new territory in China

Thursday, 21 Sep 2017 09:50   |   By Nong Ruowen

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Nick Sargent (Photo credit: www.chinanews.com)

Since Beijing and Zhangjiakou were nominated as host cities for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games, the winter sports industry has become a new momentum in the Chinese sports industry. 

The Beijing Olympic City Development Association and International Data Group co-hosted the World Winter Sports Expo 2017 in this September Beijing to offer a platform for the practitioners in winter sports to communicate with each other. The Expo was the second edition of the event and serves as part of fulfilling the commitment made by the Beijing Olympic Games Organizing Committee during their bid for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.

This 4-day expo featured exhibitions, summit forums and other relevant activities. While the summit forums not only included a main conference and over 20 parallel forums, it also featured over 200 winter sport industry practitioners.

Snowsports Industries America (SIA, a non-profit, North American member-owned trade association representing suppliers of consumer snow sports with constituents in the retailer, rep and resort communities) President Nick Sargent was one of the guests attending the main conference. 

At that conference, Sargent shared his opinion on the winter sports industry with other guests and audience, after which he attended an interview with journalists from Chinese and overseas media, including Yutang Sports.

Here are the highlights from the interview:

What is your opinion on the future global trends in the ice and snow industry? And what opportunities do you see in the future for this industry? 

Nick Sargent: The opportunities, especially here in China, are plentiful. This is a new and under-developed territory – the rest of the snow regions in the world are very much developed now. 

As we develop the winter sports business here, we have the benefit of working with key stakeholders and other parts of the region. We can represent the primary winter sports brands that we help to develop it. 

The issues we all face are climate change, economy and competing with other sports. And we have to get people away from the electronic devices and get them playing in the sun.  

As we know that now China is focusing on the establishment of its snow and ice towns, which are very similar to European towns like those in Switzerland and other European countries. I am wondering whether you have any suggestions on this issue, considering if we are going to build the ice and snow towns in the north east of China or in Zhangjiakou or Chongli. 

Nick Sargent: It is a great question. I think the most important thing is that it needs to stay true to your cultural heritage. 

So often, you see the Austrian Village or the Swiss Village in other parts of the world that are replicated to represent the winter sports business. But you have such tremendous culture here, so you really need to build the ice towns as your own culture. This is your region. So, it’s a mistake to build an Austrian or Swiss Village here. I think most importantly you should continue to embrace your culture and build the ice villages reflecting your own culture.

I am wondering how SIA facilitates impact the development of the snow sports in the U.S. And if we are looking at China, do you have any suggestions on how the SIA can help the Chinese market? 

Nick Sargent: Absolutely. SIA is over 70 years old in the US and the winter sports business was established a few years prior. There was a strong need for one single voice to represent the winter sports industry in the US, so, the association was established. We have a board that I report to, but that board also represents the industry. 

What I share with different groups here in China, like governments, sports universities and so on, is that China needs to have a foundation for the business. The foundation needs to be run by an association which represents the winter sports brands. Through that, you can then establish different dialogues and opportunities with resorts, retailers and manufacturers – domestic manufacturers and non-domestic manufacturers. 

By working together, you create a stronger, unified voice which gives you the ability to create vertical channels of manufacture, retail and consumers which feed into the resort. I think by working with different groups and entities here in China, we can help establish an association, which can utilize the best practices that we have created in North America and also around the world to help strengthen the winter sports market here in China.

Proofread by William Logsdon 

Tags: skiing,winter sports

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