This Saturday is a significant day in the history of mass participation and amateur sports in mainland China. On 10 March 1998, Nordic Ways - then still known as PWT - organised its first official orienteering event in Beijing and set the standard for the design and management of international sports events in the country. 20 years later, Nordic Ways is still around - a feat in itself for a modestly-sized foreign company in China - and very much alive and kicking.
Nordic Ways’ events are generally open to both professional elites and hobby athletes. With activities and events taking place in both summer and winter, it is always buzzing in Beijing and Changchun, the two offices of the company. Dedicated to developing, producing and promoting brand sports events, Nordic Ways focuses mainly on endurance sports and sports with a strong tradition in northern Europe.
While orienteering - a sport that is non-olympic yet extremely popular in nordic countries such as Sweden, Finland and Norway - is how Nordic Ways entered China, very quickly the executive management at the time decided to expand into other sports disciplines, seeing the potential of a rapidly modernising Chinese society and the development of its urban middle class. Typically relying on its own qualified staff and a wealth of international experts, among whom olympic champions, Nordic Ways set up the Great Wall Bike Carnival in Beijing in 1999. It was the first in a series of self-designed cycling events that continue to this day with the acclaimed Colourful Yunnan Granfondo Cycling Festival in the country’s Southwest, and the Vatternrundan Cycling Festival in Yanbian, a Korean Prefecture in the Northeast of China. Off-road, Nordic Ways founded and managed the popular Huang Shan MTB Festival for six editions, while the Genghis Khan MTB Adventure in Inner Mongolia is known the world over. Organised as a 3-day package together with the Grassland Marathon trail run, it has been lauded by CNN International as one-of-ten must-do sports events in Asia.
While Nordic Ways has achieved a great pedigree in summer sports such as cycling and running, the Tour de Ski and in particular the Vasaloppet China classic-style cross-country skiing race are considered the firm’s flagship events. It’s in winter when the tight relationship between Sweden and China comes to the fore. Vasaloppet is the biggest XC skiing race in northern Europe. In 2003, Nordic Ways took a bold gamble to introduce the brand into China, which at the time had no skiing culture at all. A milestone was set, and since then skiers flock every January to the beautiful Jingyuetan Park in Changchun, a major city in the country’s northern Jilin province. Vasaloppet China is the oldest winter sports event in the country. De facto, Nordic Ways has contributed to the development and the growing popularity of skiing among the young people, illustrated by the continuously growing participation numbers of Vasaloppet China, and the great performances of Chinese elite skiers in the Tour de Ski.
The world changes in a period of 20 years, and so does the sports scene. Proving its flexibility to stay in-tune with latest market and social developments, Nordic Ways has ventured into new areas in the past two years with, a.o., the Shangri-la Duathlon Challenge and the forthcoming branded obstacle race, Tough Viking. Future projects also include ultra running, off-road triathlon and ice skating on natural ice.
Nordic Ways plans a number of special 20-year-anniversary activities and events in 2018, of which details will become available in due course.
In the blink of an eye, Nordic Ways has been in China for 20 years. The company was founded in 1998 and we brought the Nordic sports to China and promote the Sports Carnival concept. It is not easy for a foreign sports company to operate in China for 20 years, but the company is typical Swedish style - like to be close to nature, modest, introvert but persistent, which is one of the reasons why we can succeed in China. And in the past 20 years,one of the things that people think of are the mysterious company founders.Their vision and amazing courage continues to admire people. On the 20th anniversary of Nordic Ways, we bring you Gavert Waag, one of the most activefounders of Nordic Ways. Below is an interview we did earlier this week.
1.Why did you set up a company in China 20 years ago to promote the Northern European lifestyle?
t startedas a wild idea, a World Cup in park orienteering, competitions that would bringthe orienteers into the cities, in front of the people, the crowds and media.The world´s best orienteerers competed in famous European cities. In 1998 they conquered the Asian continent in the first international orienteering eventever held in Beijing with invaluable support of our main sponsors, Ericsson,Volvo and Outokumpu.
2.How did you start promoting these activities at the beginning?
At TsinghuaUniversity in Beijing on March 10th 1998, the first international sports event with top orienteering athletes from foreign countries was organized by Nordic Ways. It turned out to be a historic day. From that day we built up our companyin China with focus on sports popular in northern European countries. But today, Nordic Ways has am even wider range of sport events in its portfolio:cross country skiing, road cycling, mountainbiking, road and trail running,triathlon, duathlon, orienteering and more. So March 10 is a historical day in fact.
3.When you founded Nordic Ways, what was the Chinese sports market like at that time?
For these“Nordic” sports, in 1998 it was zero. There was no one who was more or less interested in Orienteering. Cross-country skiing was less than zero. And even cycling in China, there were not so many races, not so many riders. Also only a few people did serious training in running at that time.
4.This is not an easy career choice. Looking back, what motivated you most to promote Nordic sports and what drives you to continue today?
People's love of sport, the nature of competition, the love of nature, the kind-hearted feelings, which may be the most important thing. The role played by Nordic Waysis only a guide.
We see a lot of possibilities. The people we care about, the people we want to be close to, they come to Nordic Ways events, and they show us the happiness and the healthier lifestyle they are getting. I am so glad to see it. We will continue to help them experience the charm of the Nordic lifestyle.
5.What were your largest challenges during those early times? How did you overcome those difficulties and challenges?
Orienteering was not easy to give out. It was much easier to do Orienteering with a map in university area. The Vasaloppet skiing came to China in 2003, it was the biggest challenge. The first edition of Vasaloppet China on March 15th 2003 is a milestone for Nordic Ways. At the opening ceremony the Swedish Ambassador, Mr.Börje Lunggren, stated “A New Tradition is Born”! But as you may know, at that time, not many people were interested in this strange Nordic sport. And we did a lot of hard work. For example, we cooperate with all colleges and universitiesin Changchun and provide long-term free cross-country skiing training for college students and ski lovers. The planned training scale is more than 40,000. In the other hand, the youth winter sports training and various ice and snow activities in Jingyuetan park also play a big role in promoting cross-country skiing.Vasaloppet China,this flag ship among our events has now been organized during 16 years and is the oldest winter sport event in China. It is outstanding. The development has gone from a small event to a ski arena with one of the biggest snow statue areas in the world.
6.You look back at Nordic Ways 20 years from now, what will you be most proud of?
am proud to be a member of this company with all our staff, all the Chinese and nordic people are working in our company, they do marvelous work.
7.What do you want to say to the related units and fans that support our events in China?
'm very satisfied to see all events growing. I hope if you are a sport person you will take part in our events. It's good to try different sports also: running,skiing, cycling, orienteering, swimming and so on in the future.
The above is an interview with Gavert. Thank you Gavert for sharing the story and thank Torbjörn for your assistance.
Today we still give out some gifts. Welcome to leave your message, tell us your favorite Nordic sports. We will randomly select 2 fans to send mysterious gifts.
And the following is the 6 lucky draw winners yesterday on wecnat. Please send your mailing address and recipient information to our WeChat backstage, we will send you the gift next week.
The oldest Nordic Ways event, the 16th edition of Vasaloppet China, will be held on January the 4th in Jingyuetan Park, Changchun, Jilin Province. Vasaloppet China is one of the few ski races in the world with snow guarantee. Experience the fantastic snow sculptures along the track. Find out more here and register here.
The 2nd Shangri La International Duathlon Challenge will be held on May 20, in Shangri-La, Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan. This is currently the highest altitude (about 3200 meters) Duathlon Challenge in China. There are individual race and team relay race. The participants need to run 7 km, ride 45 km and then run 7 km. Running starts from Shangri-La Gymnasium while cycling starts from the beautiful Napahai lake. Though this event, you can get close to Shangri-La and enjoy its mysterious beauty. Registration is coming soon, please pay close attention.
Nordic Ways wish everyone a Merry Christmas and happy new year in advance.
The 2nd Shangri La International Duathlon Challenge will be held on May the 20th in Shangri-La, Dqiqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan Province. It’s China’s highest altitude duathlon, probably also the highest in the world. There are individual race and team relay race. The participants need to run 7 km, ride 45 km and then run 7 km at an altitude of 3200 meters. And incredible finish rate in 2017 race： 100%！ Though this event, you can get close to Shangri-La and enjoy its mysterious beauty. Visit here to find more info about the event or go to sign up.
Changchun Jingyuetan Forest Marathon is another classic Nordic Ways event. The event will be held on June 17th in the Jingyuetan Park, the largest man-made forest in Asia. This event was hailed as "the most beautiful forest marathon in China" by runners. Marathon, half marathon or 7km, it doesn’t matter which category you choose. We warmly welcome all the friends from all over the world, join us and enjoy this summer party with music, running, dancing and cheering in 17th June, 2018 ! Go to register now! Visit the event website please click here.
The 4th edition of Colourful Yunnan International Granfondo Cycling Festival will be back between November 5-11 in Yunnan Province. Cycle through and around 5 cities with very varying environment and enjoy the local culture. Find out more here and register here.
The oldest Nordic Ways event, the 16th edition of Vasaloppet China, will be held on January the 4th in Jingyuetan Park, outside of Changchun (Jilin Province). Vasaloppet China is one of the few ski races in the world with snow guarantee. Experience the fantastic snow sculptures along the track. Find out more here and register here.