Julian Galinski
Julian Galinski

How to encourage the winter athletes and skiers of tomorrow

Rosi Mittermaier and Christian Neureuther: How to Get Children Interested Long-Term in Winter Sports

Winter sports have worries for the future: High prices and too little excited young talent are making entry difficult. Here, Rosi Mittermaier and Christian Neureuther explain how the foundation for the future can emerge right now – and what role their son Felix is playing in it.

Felix Neureuther, here in Penzberg, makes children "fit4future".
Felix Neureuther, here in Penzberg, makes children "fit4future".

Practicing winter sports, skiing regularly, or going on ski trips is expensive. Above all, households with an income of less than €2,000 are virtually excluded. How can we counteract this, Mr. Neureuther?
Christian Neureuther: When we compare the offers in Germany with elsewhere in Europe, we still have the best price-quality ration in ski regions here. But yes: The future of winter sports does depend on us offering affordable vacation and winter sports programs to families and people with lower incomes. That’s already being down in several places, and if you look you can find these offers.

Rental models: “Retail needs to stay flexible”

But can it compete with the really attractive all-inclusive beach offers?
We’re seeing a trend here: Due to the political situation in the Middle East, and especially in Turkey, Germans prefer to stay in their own country again. The numbers for summer tourism are going way up. And once a child has been on vacation in the mountains, summer or winter, they’ll have a longing for the mountains that will last a lifetime.

For retail, however, that also means finding different revenue models: away from buying and towards renting. You don’t need to buy skis for a vacation a year, do you?
I look at it with one eye laughing, one eye crying. Crying because, according to the industry, ski sales figures will go down and we won’t be able to afford any more racers. But, of course: The rental business is a real added value for the average consumer – but my tip there is that you should never borrow ski boots. In the children’s sector especially, parents are spending tons on skis, but that really isn’t that necessary. Retail needs to stay flexible here.

Rosi Mittermaier and Christian Neureuther visiting "Dein Winter. Dein Sport."
Rosi Mittermaier and Christian Neureuther visiting "Dein Winter. Dein Sport."

“Winter sports need to be anchored in everyday life”

What steps and measures can be taken to get children and young people interested in skiing and winter sports in the first place?
Winter sports need to be anchored in everyday life – naturally that’s difficult if the parents don’t have any connection to it at all. Here it’s the task of approaching the schools and working against the negative image of winter sports as a resource robber – a trip to Majorca is much more damaging than a trip to go skiing.

Felix Neureuther takes to the daycares

Your son is also working in this direction with his program.
Felix has now reached one million children, in a fun way, with “Beweg dich schlau” (Move smart). And of course many of them are children whose parents have absolutely no impulse towards winter sports. It’s also about the fundamental issue of promoting the culture of exercise, of creating togetherness of the generations – that’s a very important aspect. Getting to know sports that you can practice your whole life. Next, Felix is also taking his project to the daycares.

Because exercise is already being neglected, even at early ages?
Children should see that there’s so much fun to experience, especially outside.

Previously a listener, Rosi Mittermaier now joins the conversation.

Mittermaier: Simply going outside, into the outdoors – even if it’s cold sometimes! That’s the beauty of it! Many parents nowadays are afraid of exposing their children to perfectly normal aspects of nature! Young parents stick their small children in strollers wearing plastic jackets, just so not a drop of rain gets through! We used to stand under the gutter when it was raining and let ourselves get drenched. Many children today aren’t even allowed to do that anymore.

“The best gift: A big, blue gym mat”

Children are protected and cared for, with good intentions – but in much too narrow a framework.
It’s so important to impart a child with positive self-image, a confident self-image. What happens if they fall once when skiing? I say, ‘That was an epic fall, awesome!’ Not, ‘Oh God, what happened, never go that fast again!’

Neureuther: When Felix would fall and be just about to cry, I would say, ‘That was the coolest fall, it might have cracked you up!’

Mittermaier: The best gift for a child is one of those big, blue school gym mats. It’s survived for generations. It doesn’t break, and you can lay it down anywhere!

“Enthusiasm for sports that will last a lifetime”

So, in summary: Sports, and thus winter sports as well, can only be cultivated starting with the roots.
Neureuther: It’s difficult in any case to kindle new enthusiasm in your mid-20s. Sure: We’ll reach kids the easiest and the most sustainably with enthusiasm for sports – and then it’ll last a lifetime!

„Begeisterung für Sport, die ein Leben lang bleibt“

Zusammengefasst also: Sport, und damit auch Wintersport, lässt sich nur beginnend mit den Wurzeln kultivieren.
Neureuther: Mit Mitte 20 wird es jedenfalls sehr schwierig, nochmal ganz neue Begeisterung zu entfachen. Klar: Am leichtesten und nachhaltigsten erreichen wir mit Begeisterung für Sport die Kinder – und das bleibt dann ein Leben lang!

Julian Galinski
Julian Galinski
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