“There is a need for experiences in the snow,” says Tanja Frieden, President of the Swiss Snow Sports Initiative association. The art lies in getting the children onto the slopes.
Jean Claude RaemyEditor Economics
Switzerland is facing a warm turn of the year. There is only fun on the slopes at higher altitudes. Whereby: Snow sports are no longer an issue for many. This was also confirmed by analyzes by the Swiss Sports Observatory. We are talking about the number of skiers, snowboarders and cross-country skiers that has been declining for years. Tanja Frieden (46) wants to counteract this trend. The 2006 Olympic snowboard cross champion is President of the Swiss Snow Sports Initiative. The association was founded in 2014 and includes the Federal Office for Sport, Swiss Youth Hostels and Swiss Ski.
In an interview with Blick, Frieden explains that the snow sports initiative has already organized 375 snow sports camps and days this winter season. Several more would be added by the end of the winter season. Compared to the year the snow sports initiative was launched, the number of snow sports camps has increased around sixfold. A huge success for peace. your explanation for this?
With five clicks to the ski camp
The aim of the snow sports initiative is to organize cheap and ready-made snow sports camps or days for school children. “With five clicks, teachers have organized a low-cost camp via our vehicle GoSnow.ch,” says Frieden, “camps for February 2023 can now be organized without any problems”.
Frieden: “Every child should have attended a snow sports camp at least once during their school career.” The four employees at the office create inexpensive snow sports experiences with the help of all partners involved. Thanks to the “still expandable” support from the destinations, public transport and other service providers, a snow sports week for a child, including travel, accommodation, meals, rental equipment and ski pass, comes to around 350 francs, with the share for the parents being around 100 to 150 francs.
If the money is not enough, the snow sports initiative can fall back on a fund for cases of hardship, which is supported, among other things, by former Federal Councilor Adolf Ogi (80) from the “Rejoice reigns” foundation.
“There are always solutions”
“The need for experiences in the snow is there,” explains Tanja Frieden. She doesn’t want to sugarcoat financial, climatic or demographic challenges for winter sports, but she counters: “Switzerland is often more concerned with problems than with solutions. If there will be no more snow in 100 years, let’s make the best of it for 100 years!”
The fact that 60 percent of Swiss schoolchildren currently have no snow sports equipment can be solved. There is cheap equipment at sports exchanges. Families can also enjoy skiing days for little money with offers such as the Migros Ski Days.
Lots of future potential
The partners in the public-private snow sports initiative naturally pursue commercial interests. But these are of a long-term nature. “The franc invested today will not be returned tomorrow,” says Frieden. The direct gross added value from the camps of the snow sports initiative is manageable, at around CHF 3.6 million in the current winter. But it’s about the future, about winning lifelong skiers and snowboarders. Tourist destinations and snow sports companies then benefit from this downstream.
Tanja Frieden gains another economic advantage from the snow sports initiative. During the pandemic, there has been a significant increase in cases of mental disorders among adolescents. When children cultivate socio-cultural exchange at ski camps, experience the freedom of gliding on snow and develop joy in the mountains, this has a therapeutic effect. “In this way, a lot of money can be saved in the health sector,” she is convinced.
Frieden would like to extend her initiative to other sports. “In addition to GoSnow, I also have a GoMountain in mind,” she explains. “I still see a lot of potential in various areas.”