Wednesday, February 24, 2010

From wooden skis to Pakistan's 1st Winter Olympian - (Washington Post)

These days, Abbas uses Atomic skis and equipment donated to him through his country's ski federation, along with the Pakistan Air Force, in which Abbas is currently enlisted, his primary duty being to ski. Abbas waxes and tunes his own skis, a job the top competitors typically hire a technician to do.

His coach arranges the training, does the cooking and cleaning and serves as an interpreter for Abbas, who is still working on his English. It's all so Abbas can focus solely on his skiing.

Training to compete with the best in the world has been challenging, even under Farooq's guidance. At 17, Abbas spent 15 days in Japan, learning the technique of the slalom from a specialist.

Hardly enough time.

With no travel budget, Abbas only attended a handful of small events each year. He would go to a military-and-police giant slalom race in Switzerland, or an entry-league FIS competition in Iran.

His results were unspectacular. He needed more training.

So, Farooq rounded up more funds, enough to send his star pupil, along with seven other kids, to Austria in 2009 to work with some professional coaches. It was an intensive six-week training session, a crash course in the slalom.

With proper training, Abbas began to make great strides. He even finished eighth in a lower-tier race in Lebanon last March, his only top-10 finish at a FIS-sanctioned competition.
Read More at Washington Post



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