Cross-country skiing is becoming a trendy sport – so much so that it’s beating in appeal both of its richer brothers, Alpine skiiing and snowboarding.
Those are the findings of the just-released study of attitudes of Germans towards winter sports by Kantar TNS, a market research company.
35 million of Germans or 51% of the adult population, have interest in cross country skiing, compared to 50% in Alpine skiing and 40% in snowboarding. Which is quite shocking given how much more money both downhill sports currently generate compared to cross country skiing.
“Having interest” at the moment does not necessary translate into active participation – only 6% are active skiers of all levels. Yet there are strong reasons to think, according to Kantar TNS, that cross country skiing is about to experience an explosive growth of popularity and participation:
“Cross-country skiing meets the German’ desire for nature, deceleration and safety”, says the report author Joachim Bacher
The German, like the rest of Europeans, have always had strongly expressed attraction to connecting with nature and “deceleration” from stresses of everyday life. What seem to be tipping the scales towards skiing most recently, it seems, is that “safety” factor – over 80% of those polled said that winter holiday vacation of cross country skiing sounds very attractive because of terror angst and criminality issues, associated with other, hitherto popular holiday destinations.
Kantar TNS stresses another important factor of growing appeal of “narrow skis” – extensive media coverage. Both of the German public ( and, therefore, reaching every household in the country) television channels, ARD and ZDF provide extensive, wall-to-wall coverage of winter sports throughout the season. True, biathlon and the Nordic Combination are far more often in the limelight, but could you blame the TV folks for their preferences when the Bundesmannschaft is currently so much stronger in either sport while the new generation of German skiers is living in the shadows glory days of Axel Teichmann and Tobias Angerer?
Interesting detail: the Kantar TNS Wintersport 2017/2018 study into attitudes of Germans was sponsored by & carried out on behalf of the Olympiaregion Seefeld. Located, as everyone knows, in Tirol, Austria.
One, of course, could make a silly joke about the Austrians wanting to prepare better for the Germans pouring across the border – on skis ( conveniently made in Ried im Innkreis, Austria – Germany has no cross country ski manufacturing of its own) this time – but we won’t
We rather stress that it is a very important, perhaps, a turning point in the history of cross country skiing – people, masses had enough of exotic, but stressful and often dangerous winter holiday travel and want something quiet yet healthy close to home. What is needed is investment in infrastructure – and promotion.