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FIS approves Naltar, Malam Jabba for 16 international ski races

GILGIT: The International Ski Federation (FIS) has approved 16 international races for Pakistan, giving the sport a much-awaited boost.

The facility means more international skiers will visit Pakistan to benefit from Pakistani ski slopes of international standard.

According to information gathered by The Express Tribune, Pakistan Ski Federation (PSF) after sending two skiers – Muhammad Abbas and Mohammad Karim to Canada Olympics and Sochi (Russia) Winter Olympics in 2010 and 2014, respectively – tried hard to get international status with FIS races for its ski slopes.

However, it was made possible last year when FIS sent its international experts to Pakistan who approved Swat’s Malam Jabba and G-B’s Naltar for international competitions.

PSF then held the Chief of Air Staff International Karakorum Ski Cup 2016 at Naltar in which six skiers from Turkey participated. “That’s how FIS was convinced to approve 16 races for this year,” an official close to PSF said on Tuesday.

PSF spokesperson Obaid Abbasi said that for the first time around 12 countries will participate in races to be held in Malam Jabba and Naltar valley from January till March 2017.

He said previously Pakistan would send its skiers to foreign countries for training, but now this practice will be stopped which will save Pakistan millions of rupees.

More than 20 ski associations and departments including the army, air force, navy, HEC, CAA and G-B scouts will participate in various competitions.

The latest development is said to be a revolution in skiing field. In Naltar and Malam Jabba locals started the game with homemade wooden skis and plastic boots in the 1990s.

“It’s a dream come true,” said a local skier about the event in which international teams will compete for 64 medals.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 25th, 2017.

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