The Modern Ski Club - Part 1
The current state of ski clubs
For decades local ski/snowboard clubs have been a home to families and kids sharing their joy of the sport. The Bring Children to the Snow program wanted to take a moment to examine the current state of ski/snowboard clubs around the world. The three part series will look at the current state, the challenges and finally what the future may hold for ski/snowboard clubs. The first instalment looks at the current state of clubs.
Looking back, ski/snowboard clubs formed naturally from a shared love of the sport. This natural attraction drew people from all walks of life creating diverse groups who were united by the same passion. Whilst some clubs formed on the basis of competition the primary reason was, and still remains, to share time on snow with others.
When looking at clubs globally, one will quickly notice the approach varies widely from continent to continent. In Europe ski/snowboard clubs can be found in most local towns. Indeed many clubs emanated from other sporting organisations. For example a football club would play football in the warmer months but when the grounds were covered in snow, members would turn to snow sports.
In North America, clubs became more than people on the slopes as many clubs also built up the industry in their region. Looking to newer snow sports nations such as China and the existence of ski/snowboard clubs is not so prevalent as the concept of recreational skiing is relatively new there.
Finally moving south we see the ski/snowboard clubs have a distinctly different meaning. Mention the word “ski club” in New Zealand and the member most is likely part of a private ski field reserved for members and their guests, similar to golf. In Australia, South Africa and South America the ski/snowboard club is similar to European approach.
Tracking the clubs and their progress is also no easy task. To date, an accurate number of clubs cannot be given as each country’s National Ski Association is responsible for their clubs and the structure. One figure however which can provide some insight into the numbers is the number of active athletes which gives an estimate that the number of clubs is in the tens of thousands.
In talking with individuals for this three part series, FIS reached out a number of clubs who are Bring Children to the Snow Organisers. When asked the question of the health of their clubs based on participation, responses were mixed. Gianluca of Ski Club La Thuille (ITA) stated his club is healthy and the number of participants is growing. In Canada, Sarah. M of the Japser Junior Olympics stated the numbers of clubs participating in their events has remained stable over the years.
Based on this feedback and taking into consideration the different club systems worldwide, it is clear that current state of ski/snowboard clubs worldwide is stable yet there is always room to grow.
In part two of The Modern Day Ski/Snowboard Club we take a look at the challenges club face around the world.