Winter sports/11/17/2017

Experts: winter sports must be reintroduced into schools — and kindergartens

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How can we make sure that winter sports enthusiasts don’t die out? This question was put to a panel of experts at “Your Winter. Your Sport,” along with other interesting questions: How can children be persuaded to take up skiing? How can ski resorts be made more attractive? How can skiing trips be made affordable for families? What new target groups are there? outlines the answers from leading winter sports experts.

The panel at “Your Winter. Your Sport“ (from left): Martha Schulz, Antonia Asenstorfer, Klaus Dittrich, Siegfried Paßreiter and presenter Alexander Ploner.
The panel at “Your Winter. Your Sport“ (from left): Martha Schulz, Antonia Asenstorfer, Klaus Dittrich, Siegfried Paßreiter and presenter Alexander Ploner.


At “Your Winter. Your Sport,” leaders of the winter sports industry are meeting for the second time to look toward the future together. How will sports and those who pursue them develop in the coming years, accompanied by commercial success in the industry? In the panel discussion on the subject “How can we make sure that winter sports enthusiasts don’t die out?,” four experts consider the winter sports customer of the coming years and decades. They offer some ideas for getting kids interested in skiing again.

Klaus Dittrich, Chairman of the Board of Management of Messe München GmbH

Answering the most important question together: “With the ISPO Network, we’re dedicating ourselves to the task of winning over more people to the sport. Articulating this common concern is also the greatest benefit of Your Winter. Your Sport, in my opinion. Together, we have to provide answers to the question: “What can I experience where?” — and not “What do I need to buy?” We must answer the ‘Why’ together — and not get caught up in all the details."

ISPO network increasingly focused on the end consumer: “With our network, we have an incredible range: we’ve had five million unique users in the past two years with, 50 percent of whom are end consumers. We’re going to go even further and organize events around the ISPO Munich 2018, with retailers too. And we’re also planning summer activities — all of which is intended to bring sports even closer to the end consumer."

Generating enthusiasm among the next generation: “I went to a ski camp myself in days past, and out of 30 children, only two didn’t have their own skis; nowadays it’s the other way round. I think it’s great that there are initiatives to get around the price obstacle in skiing. We have to try to approach state governments in the interest of bringing winter sports weeks back to schools. A lot of teachers are no longer willing to accept the supposed risk. I believe, though, that the initiative is worth it. We need to start again with the children. There aren’t enough new, young skiers; we need to generate new enthusiasm."

Chinese as customers of tomorrow: “The Chinese are investing an incredible amount of money in the infrastructure for the ski resorts, including high-speed lines for the trains that go there. But skiing there is completely different; it has more of an event character — you rent something, and then you’re in the snow for two hours. The next step is the Chinese wanting to travel to the ski resorts that are well known worldwide.”

Martha Schulz, proprietor and CEO of the Schulz Group (owner of 7 Austrian ski resorts)

Fewer ski days, more ski intensity: “Mobility is a big issue — our guests are taking shorter vacations, but they’re taking them more often, from 7 to 5.9 days. Issues like minimum stay are passé. We have to adjust to a new generation of mobility: fewer young people are able to drive, and we must find ways of getting these people to us at the ski resort, now and also in the future. Our most important task as a business in the tourism industry is to create and fulfill desire among customers. And the people simply have to come to their mountain experience quickly.“

Promoting the next generation and competitive levels: “We have a lot of ideas like free ski days for children or lodges where food not bought at the resort can be eaten. Access is particularly important to us. We also mustn’t forget top-class sports with its heroes as role models — the next generation needs heroes to look up to."

Siegfried Paßreiter, board member of the Federal Association of the German Sport Goods Industry

Targeting kindergartens and daycare centers: “We can take care of the appropriate products, like all-purpose skis. But, unfortunately, we can’t influence the lift and hotel prices. We have lost a lot of skiers and families. We need to go into kindergartens and even into daycare centers to get the young people there excited about winter sports. At the moment, we’re often losing the fight for Christmas to electronic products like smartphones or, nowadays, even drones."

New target groups need equipment: “Companies are naturally counting on more visitors — wherever they may come from. The future is in the Far East: if 40 million Chinese want to go skiing, they’ll need the appropriate equipment for it. The next step is that they’ll want to come to us and see our central European ski resorts."

Antonia Asenstorfer, Association of German Cableways and head of communications for Alpen Plus

Making experiences affordable and accessible: “Simply investing in cableways and lift systems won’t suffice. It’s not about going faster, higher, farther — we also have to strengthen the smaller ski resorts with people on day trips. There’s a need for inexpensive opportunities to learn and to get involved, as a springboard for the bigger ski resorts. Connections and cooperation among the resorts can lead to big opportunities here. The snow experience must remain affordable and accessible, especially for children."

Focus on existing customers too: “We must focus very strongly on customer relations in the future — of course it’s important to win over new customers. But we also have to impress the customers we already have and get them to pass on their enthusiasm for winter sports.”