Over 200 athletes from 23 skiing and snowboarding clubs of Himachal will throng slopes of Solang valley near Manali on January 25 to compete in different winter sports competitions.
The slopes of Solang which are crying for government attention have not seen a single event this season. A national championship was held here last year, but as national competitions will be held at Auli in February, Himachal Pradesh Winter Games Association (HPWGA) is organizing a state level event only.
“All the clubs of Himachal have agreed to participate in the competitions in both men and women category. The top athletes in senior and junior categories will be shortlisted for national event at Auli. The slopes are covered with thick blanket of snow. We are expecting more snowfall before the event,” HPWGA president Ludar Thakur said.
Ludar, who is also former coach of Indian skiing team, said, the association is working hard to provide a platform for winter sports athletes so that they could win medals for the country in international events. “We are giving equal opportunities to all the athletes but only deserving ones will represent the state and the country. We have a large number of athletes who have represented India at the world championships and Olympics. The only problem that our athletes face is lack of skiing infrastructure. We are also working hard on strengthening skiing infrastructure,” Thakur added.
This is surprising that Manali has produced a large number of winter sports athletes who have represented India in Olympics and other world championships but the sole skiing slope of Manali at Solang is in dilapidated condition. The unmaintained, natural slope has no working ski lift and skiing is done on snow without grooming snow in absence of snow beating machine. The slope has no snow making machine leaving athletes dependent on weather for snow. The athletes generally go abroad for better training at their own expense.
National Skiing Championships at Auli from February 7
For the first time in many years, junior and senior national skiing and snowboarding championships will be held together on the slopes of Auli in Uttarakhand from February 7 to 11, an official said here.
Senior, junior and sub-junior skiing and snowboarding competitions will be organized concurrently in differing categories including cross-country, cross-country sprint, slalom and giant slalom. The races will be held in both men and women categories. The championships are being organized by Ski and Snowboard India (SSI), the official body conducting skiing and snowboarding in the country, with help of Uttarakhand government under guidelines of Indian Olympic Association (IOA).
The teams from Himachal, Uttarakhand, Delhi, Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Indo Tibetan Border Police and Army Sports Control Board are participating in the event.
SSI general secretary Roopu Negi said the preparations for successful conduct of the event are being made on war footings. “Auli slopes have experienced good snowfall. The states are conducting state level competitions to choose top athletes for national event which is going to be full of thrill and fun. The competitions will be held under guidelines of IOA and International Ski Federation,” he said.
Negi added that more such events will be organized in the country to encourage people to adopt skiing and snowboarding. He said such events also help in winter tourism promotion. He said if everything goes right, the country can soon host international event on one of the slopes in the country.