Project Kyrgyzstan: A Documentary Film About One Mans Dream to Develop a Ski Industry to Save His Economy

Posted By: The Ski Channel on January 9, 2012 5:58 am

Photos courtesy of Hayat Tarikov and Brandon Scheaffer


Two film students out of Southern California are travelling the globe in efforts to document an incredible effort in Central Asia, bringing hope for a future of ski tourism and powder turns. The 95% mountainous country of Kyrgyzstan lays on the western border of China, and is home to miles of unexplored terrain and undeveloped mountain ranges.  As brutal weather patterns challenge the lives of rural citizens in the area, one man believes the future of his country depends on the development of a ski industry.


Hayat Tarikov (pictured right) is a local Kyrgyz man and the head of Community Based Tourism in Kyrgyzstan. In his town of Arslanbob, he has started a ski touring program and taken it upon himself to teach the local Kyrgyz children how to ski so that they may grow up with a skill that will give hope for a better future.  

Kyrgyzstan currently has more than a dozen existing ski resorts, but ski tourism has not taken full effect yet.  After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Kyrgyz people have found themselves in a very tough economic situation. Being that Kyrgyzstan is almost all mountainous, many people believe that developing a ski tourism industry is a key ingredient for the future of the Kyrgyz economy.  


Another important issue facing Kyrgyzstan is the protection of the world’s largest walnut forest. Walnuts are the country’s most valuable resource, but they are disappearing rapidly due to various factors, such as overgrazing and logging. This forest is a haven of biodiversity on the edge of the Ferghana Valley and home to a variety of endangered animals and flora.  Under the Soviet Union’s rule, the forest was protected, but it became a free-for-all after the collapse.

The focus of the documentary film will intertwine these circumstances along with Hayat Tarikov’s aspirations for his country’s people.


Director and UCLA film student, Nayla Tawa, is preparing for the trip by gathering avalanche safety equipment as well as children’s ski gear to distribute to local kids on arrival to Central Asia. Her production crew is travelling to these potential ski areas in order to interview the locals and test the slopes on their snowboards, setting up camp in a yurt provided by local guides. Their incredible stories and final cut footage will be shared on The Ski Channel and in schools and mountain towns nationwide, in hopes of promising a brighter future for the Kyrgyzstan people.



Population: 5.4 million
Government: Republic
Area: 199,900 km2 or 77,181 sq mi (about the size of South Dakota) Land: High Steep and Mountains (95% of the country is mountains!)
Lowest and highest points: Kara-Daryya 132 m and Pik Pobedy 7,439 mNeighbors: Kazakastan, China, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan
Languages: Kyrgyz and RussianEthnicities: over 40 different groups 

including 68.9% Kyrgyz, 14.4% Uzbek, 9.1% Russian
Religion: Muslim 75%, Russian Orthodox 20%, other 5%


To support Project Kyrgyzstan, or if you are interested in donating any ski/snowboard gear or avalanche safety equipment, visit their project profile at: