http://www.visiontimes.com/?p=95831

‘China: A Skier’s Journey’ — A Film About the 2 Faces of Skiing in China

In the 1990s, there were virtually no ski hills in China, but by 2016 there are 568. The sport of skiing is just starting to take off with the middle class in China. For thousands of years, a hunter/gatherer type of skiing was used in the Altai Mountains, where the borders of China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, and Siberia converge.

Sadly, this type of skiing is on the verge of being lost forever, while it’s modern counterpart is on the rise.

Ancient ski's with hair from a horse's knee. (Image: Jordan Manley via Vimeo/Screenshot)

Ancient skis with hair from a horse’s leg. (Image: Jordan Manley via Vimeo/Screenshot)

In this short ski/adventure film, Jordan Manley travels with fellow skiers Chad Sayers and Forrest Coots as they explore the current ski scene in China, and go back in history to the birthplace of skiing in China.

2022 Olympic Venue. "People enjoy to ski as it's a mysterious feeling." Shan ZhaoJian Chongli, China's first Ski Champion. (Image: Jordan Manley via Vimeo/Screenshot)

Construction of the 2022 Olympic venue. (Image: Jordan Manley via Vimeo/Screenshot)

The film begins with aerial shots of empty mountains, and transitions into shots of a packed Chinese cityscape full of buildings, with text accompanying the images:

The filmmakers land in Beijing, and catch a packed train and a taxi as they make their way out of the city to ski. We hear from China’s first ski champion, Shan Zhaojian, about the first time he made a pair of skis out of grass and poured water on them to freeze.

He also mentioned that when he first skied, there wasn’t any resorts or leisure activities. The closest thing for leisure at that time was collecting wood in the mountains for firewood.

Chad Sayers & Forrest Coots about to ski off Mount Baekdu/Changbai, an active volcano on the Chinese-North Korean border. (Image: Jordan Manley via Vimeo/Screenshot)

Chad Sayers and Forrest Coots are about to ski off Mount Baekdui, an active volcano on the Chinese-North Korean border. (Image: Jordan Manley via Vimeo/Screenshot)

In an epic shot, Chad Sayers and Forrest Coots are perched on the top of Mount Baekdu, an active volcano believed to be sacred and used to propagate myths about the former ruler of North Korea.

Then they visit Chongli, a 2022 winter Olympic venue. The majority of ski resorts, such as the one at Chongli, depend upon artificial snow. At Jackson Hole, about two hours north of Beijing, they visit the Nanshan Ski Resort, where their guide tells them:

Meybrek, a local from Kohm in the Atlai Mountains with the ancient ski, traditionally used for hunting. (Image: Jordan Manley via Vimeo/Screenshot)

Meybrek, a local from Kohm in the Atlai Mountains, with ancient skis, traditionally used for hunting. (Image: Jordan Manley via Vimeo/Screenshot)

Finally, they take a long journey to the Altai Mountains and the village of Khom. It is here that they discover the birthplace of skiing in China. They meet a semi-nomadic group of ancient skiers who carry Chinese ID cards, but introduce themselves as either Kazakh, Tuija, or Mongol.

The narrator Jordan comments:

At the base of the Altai Mountains, they are led to a cave with artwork depicting life 1,000 years ago – a life that depicted men hunting animals on what looks like skis.

The Chinese government has made it illegal to cut down any trees to make skis making it hard to keep the tradition and craft alive. (Image: Jordan Manley via Vimeo/Screenshot)

The Chinese government has made it illegal to cut down trees to make skis, thus making it difficult to keep the tradition alive. (Image: Jordan Manley via Vimeo/Screenshot)

The locals say the ski was their ancestors tool for hunting. Tragically, the men in the village are not allowed to cut down trees to make skis. They are forced to find dead wood instead.

Locals worry that ancient ski will be forgotten and the younger generation won't learn the skill to make them and use them. (Image: Jordan Manley via Vimeo/Screenshot)

Locals worry that ancient skis will be forgotten and younger generations won’t learn the skills necessary to make and use them. (Image: Jordan Manley via Vimeo/Screenshot)

Around the same time the first ski resorts began to appear in China, hunting and trapping were outlawed by the Chinese government. Jordan Manley says:

In the film, villagers make skis from dead wood and hair from a horse’s leg. The locals reflect on the future of their tradition as siblings move to the city and as new technologies are introduced.

Murgal talks about his worries of the tradition from his ancestors being lost if the next generation isn't taught these things. (Image: Jordan Manley via Vimeo/Screenshot)

Murgal worries that the traditions of his ancestors may be lost forever in coming generations. (Image: Jordan Manley via Vimeo/Screenshot)

One of the locals named Murgal worries that in 10, 20, or 30 years, the ancient ski culture will be forgotten.

LIKE us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.

Subscribe to our weekly email

Celebrating Chinese New Year
The Most Successful Parents in China