How the Communist Party created a winter sports frenzy.
With little natural snow, scruffy mountains and virtually no tradition of playing snow and ice sports, China seems like an unlikely place to host the next Winter Olympics. Yet something remarkable is afoot in the Middle Kingdom. By the time the Games roll around in 2022 the Chinese government hopes to have created hundreds of millions of skiers and snowboarders among other winter sports enthusiasts. That's more than the population of Switzerland, Germany and Austria combined. To make it happen, multibillion dollar resorts are popping out of the hills north of Beijing. Schools are organizing free on-snow lessons for students. The propaganda machine is in full gear and it all seems to be working. Today, China hosts the largest group of beginners the world has ever seen, while American and European resorts, including our very own Mount Bachelor, are all jockeying to woo them westward.
Tim Neville, a correspondent for Outside and a contributor to the New York Times, has made six trips to the world's most populous country to explore this phenomenon. What he found is a wildly fun, mind-boggling adventure and a new way to span the cultural divide.
Tim Neville is a freelance writer and correspondent for Outside magazine who has spent the past 17 years reporting on adventure travel and sports from around the world. His work has appeared in GQ (Germany), Men's Journal, The New York Times and USA Today, and has been included in anthologies like Best American Sports Writing, Best American Travel Writing and Best Food Writing. He lives in Bend's Orchard District with his wife and daughter and last spoke about being one of the first westerners ever to ski in North Korea.