A wave of businesses seeking entry into the Chinese market in Beijing has advanced to the ski goods industry ahead of the 2008 Summer Games.
Salomon & Taylor Made Co. Ltd., a Japanese subsidiary of Adidas-Salomon of Germany, is providing ski goods and lending a hand to the fledgling Chinese national alpine ski team.
The ski goods maker concluded a three-year official sponsor contract with the Chinese ski league last autumn.
The Chinese skiers chosen to represent their country are four males and three females, aged 17 to 27. Japanese coaches worked with them during a training camp at Wanlong ski course, about four hours’ drive from Beijing, at the end of last year.
Their skiing skills range from elementary school student to high school student level.
Hitoshi Wakatsuki, deputy business manager of Salomon & Taylor Made, said the skiers are physically strong and have sufficient elements to quickly become competitive.
They are scheduled to undergo training in Japan centering on ski courses in Nagano Prefecture between this month and April. They will also participate in an International Ski Federation event in Japan.
The Chinese will test their abilities in the Winter Olympics next February in Turin, Italy, and aim to be competing for medals in the 2007 Asian winter games in Changchun, northeastern China.
The leisure industry is flourishing in China in the leadup to the Beijing Olympics. Interest in sports, especially golf and skiing, is growing among the wealthy, and ski courses have been set up at about 200 locations, up 20-fold from 10 years ago, according to the Chinese ski league.
The number of people taking up skiing soared to 2.8 million in 2004 from 10,000 a decade ago, and a ski dome is scheduled to be completed this year in Beijing.
A Salomon and Taylor Made official said the company plans to invest about 30 million yen on entering the market in China. The market could grow to be worth about 10 billion yen, he said.
The company plans to sell the same volume of ski goods in China as in Japan within about 10 years.
China is regarded as being competitive in freestyle skiing but is still in the process of developing in the more glamorous alpine events. Salomon and Taylor Made might extend full support to China, such as offering ski goods, training skiers and helping to spread the popularity of the sport.
Japan’s Mizuno Corp., which has official supplier contracts with the Japanese ski team and other teams, including Croatia, said it has no plans to advance into China.
Descente Ltd. has expressed some interest, saying it hopes to enter the skiing business market in China because it has already made inroads in short track skating, a sport in which China competes at the world level.
Mitsunori Ikegami, a senior Japan Olympic Committee official who supervises winter events, said, “Japan can help smooth out the foundation (for China) to compete at a world level by letting it learn Japanese skills and upgrading the level of Asia as a whole.”
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