Solang Valley emerging as a winter sport hub

Quality of snow and slopes are favourable to promote skiing

Solang Valley is a sight to behold for tourists but with a little more effort it could turn into a global winter-sport destination as well just like Gulmarg and Auli. After a successful conclusion of the first-of-its-kind four-day Alpine Premier League (APL) skiing competition -- that featured over 350 skiers -- the slopes' potential was visible to one and all.

And with the organisers of the competition, a private firm Ski Himalayas, keen to develop the slopes further and import better equipment, things seem pretty bright.  "We are also planning to import snow beaters – a machine that smoothens the snow and makes it more appropriate for skiing -- from Italy before the next season," Amitabh Sharma, managing director of Ski Himalayas, said. He also emphasised that the winners of APL would be groomed further.

"We would adopt people who have shown potential during APL and send them for training abroad. We are also planning to rope in some foreign coaches, besides talking to corporates to invest money," he said. 

BCCI joint secretary and Member of Parliament, Anurag Thakur said government will lend support to develop it as a winter sports hub. "It is just the beginning. This is going to get better and bigger. We are planning to rope in film stars or sportspersons who could become the face of the event.”

Drawing comparisons with the Indian Premier League, Thakur said, "APL in skiing is synonym to IPL in cricket. We got the idea to hold a skiing competition from the IPL." Solang Valley, located 13 km north-west of Manali at an altitude of 8,000 ft, receives more snow than Auli where many skiing events take place.

India's top winter sports athlete Shiva Keshavan feels the quality of snow here makes it a desirable destination. "Safety is a concern, but I hope the organisers would open up more slopes in future,” he said. “The fact that there are hardly any incidents of avalanches here, we can actually utilise the resources well," insisted Keshavan.

Meanwhile, Peter Todler from England, who has been skiing for the last 15 years, was all praise for the slopes of Solang Valley.

"The terrain and slopes have the potential to host high-profile international competitions," he said, who has been here at least seven times in the past.

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