Wintastar Shanghai Indoor Ski Center

The latest offering to entice millions of newbies into winter sports is in the works in China’s largest city. Opening 2022, Wintastar Shanghai is on track to be the world’s biggest indoor ski resort, pinching peak position from Harbin Wanda Indoor Resort in Heilongjiang Province, located far to the North near the Russian border.

Designed by Italian architect Massimo Mercurio of Singapore-based Mercurio Lab Designs, the 227,000 square meter undertaking will juxtapose a futuristic façade with an interior evocative of the Alps – a sort of Blade Runner meets the Engadine Valley, with its luxe charm and hip après. And 90,000 square meters of slopes with all the bells and winter sport whistles you could wish for, including four themed hotels – ski-in-ski-out and an ice variety – a luxury spa, event space to host performances and exhibitions, a skating rink, shopping, restaurants, bars and – just cause it can – a Nordic-themed waterpark.

“Winter sports and China’s ski industry have entered a golden period of development in the run up to the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing,” says Zhijiang Wang, CEO of Singapore-based KOP Properties, the powerhouse developer behind Wintastar. “Through this project, we hope the Chinese will create their own ski culture.”

With its own Olympic training slope, Wintastar may well end up launching the next gen of champions. For the moment, however, it will have to be content being at the fore of a growing global trend – from Ski Dubai, which pioneered the indoor ski genre in the Middle East in 2005, to Ski Egypt and Snow Park Palm Mall in Oman, to Ski Riyadh, which is still in development. In Europe, Tignes’ ‘Ski Line’ project offers four hundred meters of indoor slopes with the hope of bringing back a tradition of 365-day training. Not to be outdone, Big Snow America debuted in New Jersey this year, while in the UK there are now sixty-nine indoor centers prepping skiers and snowboarders for the real thing.

Global Warming notwithstanding – it could be we all eventually head indoors to ski.

China is racing to develop winter sports. “President Xi announced his goal of 300 million winter sports participants by 2022,” says ski resort planner Paul Mathews, whose company Ecosign is working on the Beijing Olympic facilities. “China had nineteen million skier days last season, so a long climb remains. But indoor winter facilities will definitely help.”