India is blessed with some of the most magnificent mountain ranges on this planet, but skiing remains an unfamiliar sport to a majority of Indians. The reasons for this, range from the high costs of travel and equipment to the unavailability of quality infrastructure such as cable cars and chairlifts.
Anyone who skies professionally requires skis, helmets, suits, goggles, gloves, boots, and bindings to compete. The total cost of the equipment is anywhere between Rs 5 and Rs 10 lakh.
Skiing in India is an activity that mostly takes place in the northern states. If you are interested in it as a hobby or want to experience its thrill while on a holiday, you can visit several locations across Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh. However, most of them aren’t worth considering if you want to pursue skiing professionally.
Also, the culture and infrastructure of winter sports in this country is virtually non-existent. Government bodies hardly provide any support to athletes participating in winter sports.
In such circumstances, it is incredible that Aanchal Thakur, a resident of Burua village near Manali, became the first Indian ever to win an international medal in skiing.
On Tuesday, the 21-year-old woman won the bronze medal in the famous Alpine Ejder 3200 Cup conducted by the Federation Internationale de Ski (FIS), the sport’s international governing body, at the Palandoken Ski Centre in Erzurum, Turkey.
According to the Times of India, Aanchal won the bronze medal in the slalom race category. “Months of training have finally borne fruit. I started well and managed to take a good lead, which helped later in getting the third-place finish,” she told the publication.
However, her father, Roshan Thakur, who is the secretary-general of the Winter Games Federation of India, rues the lack of financial and infrastructural support from the government. Aanchal’s journey to a bronze medal was mostly financed by him, or the FIS, which on occasions funds her trips.
“I hope Aanchal’s medal helps our cause (in getting financial support from the Centre). I want to see my daughter and son represent the country at the 2018 Winter Olympics,” Roshan Thakur told the Times of India.