Last year, more than 7.3 million pairs of skis and snowboards were exported by European Union member states, according to the EU’s statistical office, Eurostat. Some 60 percent (4.3 million items) were traded within the EU. How did the Czech Republic do when it came to exports?
When it comes to skis and snowboard export, the top spot by a wide margin is held by Austria, which in 2016 counted for 34 percent of EU member states exports, according to a Eurostat report recently to coincide with International Mountain Day. The UK with 14 percent came second, and Germany with nine percent, third. But the Czech Republic didn’t fare badly, placing sixth on the list with 8 percent, with 561,700 items, finishing closely behind Bulgaria and France.
Alpine skiing in Bohemia goes back more than 130 years: on January 5, 1887 skiing fan Josef Rössler-Ořovský used Prague’s Wenceslas Square, with a fairly friendly incline, as the first Czech run. Back then, winters were considerably tougher and snowfall more intense to be able to accomplish the feat. Afterwards, skiing gradually caught on across the Czech lands.
It also appeared in recent years that more and more people were renting rather than buying new gear. But the spokesman for internet seller mall.cz, Jan Řezáč, told Czech Radio that the opposite was the case.
“Rentals have not had an impact on sales except for one segment and that is children’s ski and snowboard equipment. Because there gear lasts only one or two seasons before they outgrow it, families rather choose to rent.”
Martina Kudláčková the head of marketing and sales for the sports goods chain Sportisimo confirmed similar findings:
“We haven’t seen a drop in the sale of downhill or cross-country skis, but we have a concept store called Hard Sport in Zličín where there is rental and there we have seen that when it comes to kids people prefer to rent.”
“Alpine ski sales last year outweighed the sale of snowboards by more than 2:1. This year, it looks like 90 percent of sales are in favour of skis.”
One reason skis are coming back in a big way, say sellers, is because of innovation in designs, such as freeride skis which allow skiers the option of hitting natural, ungroomed terrain.