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11/25/2018 12:00 AM

Winter sports expertise from Lahti to China

Companies in the Lahti region are closely involved in helping China to become a winter sports country. The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics is arousing interest in winter sports in this huge country and is creating a market for winter sport expertise, equipment, training and travel.
Jani Klinga

The City of Lahti and the City of Zhangjiakou, which will host the Nordic skiing sports during the Olympic Games, will sign a twin-city agreement on Sunday 25 November, valid for five years, to promote cooperation between winter sports–related companies from Lahti and in China. At the same time, the Lahti-based company JK Pro Coaching and the Zhangjiakou Xuanhua government will conclude a long-term coaching agreement.

‘We will build a culture of Nordic skiing sports, such as cross-country skiing, ski jumping and Nordic combined in the area,’ says coach Jani Klinga of JK Pro Coaching. He has been analysing the situation and building the basis for future co-operation in Zhangjiakou for about a year.

At first, the work will be focused closely on the Youth Olympic School in Zhangjiakou. Klinga and his assistant coaches have been responsible for coaching its pupils. The training of young athletes will initially take place in China, and later on in Lahti. The agreement will be in force for several years and will gradually be expanded with regard to coaching and other activities.

According to Klinga, China is still a small player in Nordic skiing sports, but the Olympics will increase investment in winter sports in the country. The Chinese government’s goal is to have 300 million people regularly taking part in winter sports by 2022.

In order to meet this goal, China will have to invest in creating a winter sports tradition, building an infrastructure that supports winter sports, ensuring the availability and service of equipment, as well as offering coaching and well-being services. This offers great opportunities for exporting top Finnish expertise, services and products.

The Lahti region has a number of significant winter sports–related companies, such as Startex, known for its ski waxes, Peltonen Ski Oy, and Luhta Sportswear Company. Based on the twin-city agreement between Lahti and Zhangjiakou, the City of Lahti is also involved in offering expertise in designing and building infrastructure for winter sports and organising related events.

According to Raija Forsman, CEO of the marketing company Lahti Region Ltd, Lahti is mainly presented in China as the nearest European winter sports city with significant expertise in organising winter events and two sports institutes recognised by the Olympic Committee. In addition, Chinese people are interested in the Nordic lifestyle.

‘We already have athletes and camp school groups from China visiting Vierumäki and Pajulahti sports institutes. The number of Chinese visitors is growing, and the twin-city agreement helps to promote Lahti in Zhangjiakou, another Olympic city in addition to Beijing, and particularly to encourage the tour operator network in our twin city to cooperate with Visit Lahti,’ says Forsman.

According to Denis Mustonen, Head of Foreign Affairs at the City of Lahti, preparations for the twin city agreement lasted two years, which will lay the foundations for cooperation between companies involved in exporting winter sports services and products.

In practice, the cooperation is organised via the WKH – Winter Know How project launched by the marketing company Lahti Region and the regional development company LADEC. These activities are part of a more extensive Finnish export consortium.

For more information about the twin city agreement, contact:
Pekka Timonen, Mayor, City of Lahti, tel. +358 50 337 4386

Denis Mustonen, Head of Foreign Affairs, City of Lahti, tel. +358 40 820 9473

 

For more information about the coaching agreement:
Coach Jani Klinga, tel. +358 50 522 3639