The ski season may be ending, but many people in China believe the sport here is just beginning
China is a country where a growing number of people have enough time and money to go skiing and snowboarding.
At this resort in Chongli, Hebei province, Asia Ruan Hoffman, a Chinese skier, says that she feels snowboarding in particular is getting more popular:
"A few years ago since I started learning snowboarding there weren't so many people, especially snowboarders, because I think when people chose what to do they usually choose the easier one, the skiing. But now there are more because all the guys, they want to be cool. And also the girls, as well."
The Chinese Ski Association says the number of skiers in China grew from around one million in 1996 to 6 million in 2013.
And many believe these figures are growing.
Such as the Malaysian investors behind this resort, just a few hours drive from Beijing.
As well as a modern mountain top cafe that offers hot noodles and comfortable seats, the Secret Garden Ski Resort has 30 ski runs and its own hotel. All of which is large by Chinese standards.
But resort manager, Paul Sanpawichu says that its 265 rooms and suites are only 10 percent of the development. The resort is expected to have 2,800 rooms when the development project is complete in a few years.
"This is a four seasons country with a huge, huge potential in winter sport," he says.
Ultimately they want to build 89 ski slopes, with a capacity for up to 20,000 skiers, an investment that will cost around a billion dollars.
With a mountain height of 2100m, the resort will be almost completely dependent upon man-made snow.
At a Beijing networking event organised by the Austrian chamber of commerce, engineering company Thaiwoo's Deputy General Manager, Summer Zhou says her company is investing 80 million dollars into another new ski resort close to Beijing.
"For the first one we will build 4 hotels and two of them belong to the Hyatt. Hyatt will manage it"
But for a relatively expensive sport that doesn't have a strong tradition in China, will these huge investments pay off?
"The Chinese way, they believe they can get a return of investment in two to three years. Impossible. We have in Austria and Europe, the big ski resorts, we have experience of a hundred years which we've developed slowly over a hundred years. And we know this is a long term investment," says Wolfgang Preisinger, ski race director and representative of the Ski and Snowboard Association of Salzburg in China.
"You cannot get back your investment within two years. Impossible. Because the investment is too big," Preisinger says. "And if you have quality, even bigger. But, at least after around ten years, you know, you start to earn money. And all investors should be aware."
Back at the Secret Garden Ski Resort there is optimism.
"This is my second full season in this resort and I can see the growing number of people who visit here from this year and last year. And as you could see yesterday our lift here was jam packed and there were thousands of people. We broke the record yesterday with 3,500 skiers just on a single day," says Sapawichu.
The ambitions of Chinese ski fans don't stop at building resorts. Beijing is bidding for the 2022 Winter Olympics. If successful, it would be the first city to have held the Winter and Summer Olympics.
There may be one small hitch: almost complete dependency on man-made snow. Average snowfall from December - February in this region is just 2.7mm, compared with other winter olympic cities, such as Sapporo (106.4mm); and Vancouver (150.6mm) according to data from the World Meteorological Organisation.
Preisinger says this is not a problem:
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