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‘None of them had ever seen snow’

Michael Brunner with China’s future ski aces in his ski school in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.

The Winter Olympics in Beijing have begun. Now it’s all about medals – and this is precisely where China has a problem. At the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, the athletes of the People’s Republic won only one meager gold medal. This does not reflect China’s image of itself under Xi Jinping. A medal table in which they win as few golds as Slovakia or Hungary and fewer than Belarus or the Czech Republic is not something Beijing wants to see again. “They got the Winter Olympics and then realized that they have no ski athletes at all.” That is Michael Brunner’s bitter diagnosis.

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