Even though there is little chance of Macao experiencing snow, there are many opportunities to go skiing and snowboarding. Both sports are now possible in Macao thanks to four local skiing enthusiasts who started a learning centre for skiing and snowboarding back in 2014.
Amid the concrete buildings in the north of the Macao peninsula there is a little resort for skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts in the city. The entrance to the Macao Ski and Snowboard Association facility is on the ground floor of the Chiao Kuang industrial building in Rua Graciosa in Iao Hon district. It may be a little bit tricky to spot but once you are through the doorway, you have a whole new world to explore. The spacious high ceilinged interior, houses two big ski-slope simulators and the decoration follows a snow theme.
In charge of the Macao Ski and Snowboard Association is Joanne Tong. “This is the only ski and snowboard learning centre in Macao,” she says. “Our aim is to provide a training ground for beginners who wish to pick up skiing and snowboarding skills and for those who have already acquired the basic skills to practise and improve, before embarking on a real ski trip.”
When talking about the original idea of the project, Ms Tong says: “Back then, skiing and snowboarding classes were only available in Hong Kong. Every time we went to a class, it would take up a whole day and it was relatively costly. So, we began to think if it would be feasible to have a similar ski and snowboard facility in Macao.” They learnt from the model of the existing ski and snowboard facility in Hong Kong and brought the concept back to Macao by sourcing the right venue and customising their one-of-a-kind, adjustable simulators, which were built by one of the partners who is an engineering expert.
The centre offers instructions in skiing and snowboarding to learners of all ages. In general, a learner with no experience will be good to go on a real skiing or snowboarding holiday after finishing the beginner’s course and the intermediate-level course. “Youngsters tend to acquire the skills faster,” Ms Tong says. “But everyone will get there with the coaching of our experienced trainers.”
A prospective learner can sign up individually for a skiing or snowboarding course comprising 10 classes. A group of three learners can sign up for private instruction by an experienced coach. “The core value of our centre is to share our interest with more like-minded people,” Ms Tong says. “Of course, we have the need to cover the operating costs, but for us, it really is not about making revenue at all, it is the passion that drives us.”
As with learning anything, it is important to get out of the classroom and get some hands-on experience. Every winter, the association arranges holidays to ski resorts for its members and learners. The trips have become a tradition of the association. “It is very rewarding to see that many students enjoy skiing and snowboarding as much as we do,” Ms Tong says. “I believe going on ski trips together is the best way for students to keep up with their newly-acquired skills and stay connected with the Ski and Snowboard Association.”
Currently, broadening its appeal is a challenge for the association. “Especially during the low season, which is from March to August, we normally face a decline in business and we are hoping that things will get better following our third anniversary promotion,” Ms Tong says. “We look forward to seeing more new faces, and hopefully that would benefit and stabilise the association’s low season.”