Arabella Ng part of Hong Kong’s first ever snow sports team as Ski Association plots bold path to 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics
The inaugural line-up of 15 athletes should be easy to expand because of the city’s love for skiing, says governing body chairman Edmond Yue
Just weeks after Arabella Ng became the first local athlete to compete in a snow event at the Winter Olympics, the Ski Association of Hong Kong has outlined a plan to ensure she is not alone at Beijing 2022.
The association has launched the first ever Hong Kong snow sports team and hopes to unearth a raft of new talent by capitalising on the city’s love for skiing.
The inaugural team is made up of 15 athletes aged between 13 and 21, but association chairman Edmond Yue Kwok-yin believes the fact up to 300,000 Hongkongers take snow holidays each year means that number will be easy to expand.
“Hong Kong, even though we have a lot of interest in skiing, it is still very much for leisure, people from Hong Kong go on ski tours rather than competing,” he said.
“We hope we can bring children to the snow, we want to start from the grass roots and, if they have enough talent, we would like to put the kids through more rigorous training so they can become competitive at a very young age.
“In Europe, people start at four or five years old but in Hong Kong we don’t have such a luxury – we have to take children to the snow.”
Helping the association in their quest to put Hong Kong on the snow-sports map is a new partnership with Club Med, which gives local skiers access to Club Med training facilities throughout Asia and the world.
The association will use these facilities – predominantly in China and Japan – to identify and assess new talent, as well as to train team members.
“We will have interschool programmes to make the right assessment of young talent and then have them compete in the regional tournaments,” Yue said.
“We will have Club Med as a centralised training ground. Before it was very scattered, but now we can focus on a single area that we can train and do our assessments.”
Yue also hopes Ng’s trailblazing 56th in the giant slalom in Pyeongchang will help the association plead their case with the Hong Kong government.
“Before there has not been much help from the government in terms of funding to train athletes, but now that we have some hope of sending athletes to the Olympics, maybe there will be some governmental help,” he said.
Yue wouldn’t set a specific target for how many athletes Hong Kong want to take to Beijing but he is confident there is enough depth to ensure Ng won’t be flying solo again.
“I assume [Ng] will go to the Games again because she is only 16 – we have a lot of young, talented athletes that can join her and that’s what we are working on,” he said.
The ski association is working with schools to unearth potential Olympians and Club Med’s Sebastien Portes urged keen young skiers to come forward.
“There are a lot of kids that are really skilled because they go every year with their parents or maybe twice a year, they just don’t know they can be part of a team,” he said. “They need to know this, be assessed fast and be part of the team and the training.”