China’s winter sports industry is basking in the afterglow of the country’s successful hosting of the Winter Olympics last month. The number of people who have taken to ski slopes and skating rinks, inspired by the spectacle of medal-winning skills they had observed in Beijing, has far exceeded the government’s wildest forecasts Up to 346 million people are taking part in winter sports, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, surpassing the 300 million target set by President Xi Jinping seven years ago when Beijing handed in its bid to host the 2022 Winter games. At least 800 ski resorts are operating in China, according to a report by Beijing Yuanhe Partners in 2020, competing for a slice of a market that is predicted to snowball in value by 73 per cent from last year to 1 trillion yuan (US$158.3 billion) by 2025. There is “growing enthusiasm for snow and ice [sports], buoyed by the Winter Olympics,” Fosun Tourism’s chairman Qian Jiannong said in an interview with the South China Morning Post . “The number of learners at our resorts gives me confidence, because the potential is huge.” Fosun’s resort chain, Club Med, now operates three all-inclusive winter resorts in China, and plans to open the Club Med Taiwoo in Zhangjiakou’s Chongli county soon, which was a venue for the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics. The group, whose Club Med Changbaishan resort in northeastern China’s Jilin province was fully booked during the Lunar New Year holiday from January 31 to February 6, plans to operate eight resorts in Northeast Asia by 2023, Qian said. “Our capacity is not enough to meet people’s demand for snow sports,” he added. “The country’s supply of facilities and resorts is just not enough.” Travel restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has prevented many Chinese skiers and snowboarders from holidaying abroad. “The Winter Olympics was a trigger, and more importantly Chinese athletes’ achievements during the event will fuel growth in the market,” said Chen Xiao, CEO of Shanghai Yacheng Culture, a consultancy dealing with marketing and branding for foreign and local companies. “Winter sport facilities and sportswear will see an investment spree.” China won nine gold, four silver and two bronze medals at the Beijing Winter Olympics that concluded on February 20. According to the 2020 China Ski Industry White Book compiled by law firm Beijing Yuanhe Partners, the number of ski resorts grew by 40 per cent to 800 that year while ice-skating rinks tripled to more than 650. Sunac China last month launched its ski training brand, Bonski Sports, as the Chinese home builder sought to capitalise on the trend to shore up business at its 17 all-season ski resorts nationwide. “The ice-snow industry has ushered in unprecedented opportunities and outstanding prospects,” Peng Lu, the executive president of Sunac, said in a statement on February 25. Riding on this wave, Bonski Sports will establish a ski talent pool and help popularise the sport to the masses, Peng added. China’s top sportswear brands such as Anta Sports Products, the official sportswear provider for the Beijing Winter Olympics, also benefited from the publicity. Freestyle skier Eileen Gu, also known as Gu Ailing, wore its ski suits during her exploits at the Olympics. Gu, aged just 18, became a household name in China after grabbing two gold medals and a silver with her athleticism in the big air, half pipe and slopestyle events. Li Ning launched its first snowboard sportswear series on the opening day of the Olympics to maximise its marketing dollars in a bid to attract local winter sports fans. Credit Suisse forecast in a research report that Chinese brands would continue to gain market share in 2022, with revenue growth of 20 to 25 per cent, compared to 9 to 16 per cent in brands owned by foreign rivals.