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Salomon Freeski TV: The Architect

Salomon FreeskiTV’s Episode 6, “The Architect” takes a look at the changing face of ski areas through the eyes of Ryley Thesen, one of the world’s leading ski-resort designers. Backcountry.com athlete Leo Ahrens, Vincent Gagnier, and Simon Ericson met up in China to check out the designer’s work first-hand and experience the potential of an emerging ski industry. In the post below, Leo recaps his curiosity going into this unforgettable episode.

As I find myself shuffling through the Salt Lake City International Airport with a pair of ski boots on my shoulder and a plane ticket in my hand, I can’t help but wonder where the other eager travelers slugging six-foot overweight ski bags are heading. I assume they’re on a direct flight to one of the many epicenters of winter sports. Maybe Whistler, Squaw, Mt. Hood, or even as far as Europe? Regardless of where they are going one thing is for sure, none of them will be fighting for the window seat on my 17-hour flight to Beijing, China.

Typically known as the country that mass produces skis and boots, China might not be a place you’d ever think of traveling to for skiing. I didn’t either… until Salomon Freeski TV invited team riders Simon Ericson, Vincent Gagnier, and myself on an expedition to seek out an emerging ski industry spreading across China like wildfire. Starting with only a handful of established resorts in the past decade to an incredible boom of new resorts in the past few years, I am left curious and excited to see what’s in store. Could China be a new epicenter of skiing?

Two short weeks later our crew had traveled from the bustling city of Beijing to the far-off farm lands near the North Korean border. We visited one of the first ski resorts to push up out of the city smog and broke trail at the brand new multimillion-dollar luxury resort of Changbaishan. Without a doubt, skiing is a very new sport for the people of China, but it’s a sport that’s growing fast. Although the locals might not be skilled enough to make it safely down some of the terrain the new high-speed gondolas access, we know it won’t be long before they can.

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