ARIF SHAFI WANI – GreaterKashmir
Gulmarg, Jan 13: The snow-clad slopes of Gulmarg are these days home to a large number of professional skiers, including many from Europe and United States.
A high profile six-member team of mountain and skiing experts from Sweden is presently on “Mission Gulmarg” to enable smooth conduct of ski events on Apharwath.
“We’re here to teach the in-service skiers rescue operations during skiing,” Jorgen Karstrain, an expert in mountain guiding and member of the team told Greater Kashmir.
Having been to various ski-resorts around the Globe, Jorgen was all praise for the mountains of Gulmarg, often called ‘Switzerland of Kashmir’ for its stunning beauty.
“The mountains are ready made for skiing. They are unique in a sense that there are long ridges and slopes, and they provide ample opportunities for conduct of skiing and other snow activities,” says Jorgen as he glanced up a mountain.
“Due to Gulmarg, Kashmir has the potential to become one of the best ski-resorts of World,” Jorgen asserted.
Federation of International Skiing, after survey of the mountains has already given green signal in its report for conducting skiing on Apharwat.
“We’re able to conduct cross-country ski racing last year, and preparations are on to host national and international ski events,” said G.M Dar, incharge Tourism department Gulmarg and Mountaineering and Skiing instructor.
Dar said enquires about the new skiing spots in Gulmarg were pouring in from across the globe.
Nina Garmen, a professional skier from US was “inspired” to ski on the mountains of Kashmir. Garmen says she could not resist coming here, after seeing mountains of Kashmir and the ski opportunities they offer, in a video on extreme skiing ‘Tangerine Dream’ produced by the US-based Teton Gravity Research.
“It seems like the mountains have been carved out for skiing. I visited in summer here to see the slopes closely and eagerly waited for the snow. And now I’m here enjoying while skiing,” an elated Garmen said.
Mari Van, a skier from Holland said “I feel safe and at peace here. Gulmarg has soul-healing power.”
Many local kids and students of various Srinagar schools are also participating in the ski-training program amidst ski-experts.
Shiekh Burhan, 11, a student of Tyndale Biscoe School was skiing with impeccable skill. “I want to represent my state in international ski events. Every Kashmiri should know skiing, as it can prove helpful in rescue and relief operations in winters,” Burhan said as his instructor shouted at him to ride down the slope.
“All the students have donated Rs 100 for the program and we’ll have fun,” two girls said.
Savita Koul, an ace ski instructor said 43 students are participating in the training program. “The local students are picking the art of skiing very fast. You would be amazed to know that a student of kindergarten, Madeha has already outshined others in skiing and she’s doing it according to the book,” Savita said while pointing towards Madeha far away on the slope.
A team of Indian Institute of Skiing and Mountaineering (IISM) is also camping in Gulmarg to oversee the ongoing skiing training program and up gradation of ski infrastructure.
“We’re planning to introduce para-ski gliding, ice hockey and skiing on snowboards courses in our training programs. Let’s hope for more snowfall,” said B.S Bajwa a member of IISM.