How to get 300 million Chinese on skis?
Ole Einar Bjørndalen is headed for China.
As China is hosting Winter Olympics in 2022, the Chinese president Xi Jinping wants to increase the effort on skiing. His goal is to get 300 million Chinese on cross-country skis. This is why China recently launched the project campaign “Bring the kids to the snow.”
To help get the project off the ground, legendary biathlete Ole Einar Bjørndalen (NOR), the most winning winter Olympian to date with eight gold medals, four silver medals and one bronze medal, is named the ambassador or the Chinese campaign. Bjørndalen, who became a father for the first time himself in October 2016, is an important part of the plan.
“We simply want to teach the Chinese to ski. Madshus has a solid network in China, so the foundation for the project is already set. My job is to get the Chinese inspired and excited about skiing,” Bjørndalen says to the Swedish newspaper SportExpressen.
“China doesn’t have the same tradition and culture for skiing as we do in Norway and Sweden, but it’s all about creating positive experiences. The Madshus project in China is targeted at the recreational level, and not geared toward elite development for the 2022 Olympics,” Bjørndalen explains, and continues:
“Winter sports are still small compared to the summer sports. But if we can get more Chinese to compete in cross-country and biathlon, we have a real chance to make an impact that will benefit skiing in the long run. There are many nations competing already, but the pool of elite athletes in biathlon and cross-country skiing is still small compared to many of the summer sports.” There are far more Chines.
Bjørndalen will travel to China in the spring, but until then, his number-one priority is the 2018 Olympics in South Korea, which the 43-year-old says will be his last.