Anta Sports Products, one of China’s largest producers of athletic gear, said it’s seeking to expand its collaboration with the free-skiing gold medallist Eileen Gu after its brand hit a marketing mother lode with the superstar’s endorsement during the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. The Fujian-based company, which owns several winter sports brands like Salomon and Atomic in its portfolio, plans to design new athletic wear tailored to Gu’s persona to launch by the third quarter, said Anta’s chief marketing officer Lydia Zhu, in an interview with South China Morning Post . “Anta’s impact and recognition among consumers have been elevated” by Olympics-related marketing during the Winter Games, said Zhu. The superstar’s “[boost to Anta] wasn’t simply in increasing sales, but also the [alignment] of her positive energy and her call for young women to participate in sports with Anta’s brand spirit,” she said. The Winter Olympics, held outside the Chinese capital from February 4 through 20, was the world’s largest sporting event during the northern hemisphere winter, a stage for consumer brands to strut their stuff along with their star athletes. China’s winter sports market could soar to 1 trillion yuan (US$158.1 billion) in value by 2025, according to data compiled by Tencent Sports, Toyota Motor and Analysys in Beijing. Gu, also known as Gu Ailing in Chinese, became a household name in the nation of 1.4 billion people after grabbing two gold medals and a silver with her athleticism in the big air, half pipe and slop events. The California-born skier’s fans number in the millions, as she won hearts with her all-around talent in sports and academics, as well as her unblemished public persona, and a rare media savvy that crosses geographical lines. The 18-year-old skier wore Anta’s ski suit when she won gold in the big air event on February 8. Her black ski suit, featuring a golden dragon on the back that she designed herself, used a breathable fabric that was also windproof, helping to reduce slip drag as she turned 1,620 degrees in the air to her victory. Off-piste, Gu was photographed in a black and white hat shaped like a panda’s head – dubbed the Bing Dun Dun hat after the Winter Games’ mascot – which created a flurry for the product, causing to sell out. Her down jackets, featuring the Anta logo, also triggered heated discussions on China’s Weibo microsites. Anta was not the sole brand to receive Gu’s star dust. At least 26 brands in automobiles, luxury goods, home appliances and beverages have appointed Gu as their ambassador, according to the Chinese media. The athlete, undergoing quarantine to clear her of Covid-19 infections after the sports event, could not be reached for comment. “Sponsorship for the Olympics is only part of a company’s branding activities, which demand long-term investments,” because social-distancing rules and travel restrictions to contain the Covid-19 outbreak have hindered outdoor activities, said George Ren, a senior partner at the Roland Berger consultancy in Shanghai. In China’s shoe capital, home-grown firms take on Adidas and Nike Anta also plans to further engage in sports events in the future, including the Asia Games and 2024 Summer Olympics. It will also strengthen its representation as a Chinese brand to connect to targeted consumers. “We hope that Anta will be at the same level with international brands no matter in terms of brand power and products, or even exceed global brands, which is what we hope to achieve in the next five to 10 years,” Zhu said.