Pakistan looks to turn skiing into a national pastime

Posted By: The Ski Channel on March 16, 2010 7:45 am

The Dawn Media group reports today:

ISLAMABAD: The Ski Federation of Pakistan (SFP) aims to expand and develop the Naltar ski slope in Gilgit in a bid to promote the sport in the country.

An expansion of the ski slope and installation of a chairlift system at Naltar is on the cards, SFP Secretary General Air Commodore Musrrat Ali told the media on Tuesday.

Skier Muhammad Abbas, an employee of Pakistan Air Force, who made Pakistan’s Winter Olympic debut at the Vancouver Games was also present.

While the installation of chairlift system and further expansion may take a few years, the federation plans on sending local skiers to Iran for training in a professional environment.

“The federation, under the leadership of its president Air Marshal Hifazatullah Khan, envisions greater participation in winter games, including SAF Winter Games, Asian Winter Games and the 2014 Winter Olympics,” Ali said.

SFP is looking to hire a European coach to train athletes for Alpine, Cross Country and Baithlon teams.

“PAF and the Federation have put in a lot of endeavours in improving and honing the skills of country’s top skier Abbas for a long time to achieve this celebrated target,” he added.

Efforts to raise Abbas’ international ski ranking were intensified by providing him advanced ski training in Austria, besides sending him to a number of international ski competitions. The federation also acquired ski equipment and a ski simulator to help the athletes train during off-season, the official said.

Pakistan’s participation at the Winter Olympics was on the basis of a wild-card entry, wherein the athletes qualify after acquiring the requisite international ranking.

“Although we did not expect Abbas to do miracles on debut, he put in a remarkable performance on this historic occasion,” Ali said.

Alpine skier Abbas participated in the Men’s Giant Slalom event at the Winter Olympics which included 103 athletes from 60 countries. He completed the race ranked 79, ahead of several season skiers from across the world, including India.

“Keeping in view Abbas’s time, and the skill and maturity he showed at the big event, it will not be wrong to consider him the best skier in South Asia,” he added.