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Nepal Olympic Committee President Jeevan Ram Shrestha with BK Abhishek (left) and Ajaya Balak before the boys' 10km individual freestyle cross- country race on Monday.

Noc News

Nepali youngsters catch winter sports fever

Date : 11 Feb 2019

Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Russian Federation, February 11, 2019: BK Abhishek missed his mum’s cooking initially but soon found himself tucking into hearty Russian cuisine as Nepal’s experiment with winter sports, specifically cross-country skiing, gathered momentum.

One month after arriving in Sakhalin Island, Abhishek and teammate Ajaya Balak were ready “to give our best” in the boys’ 10km individual freestyle event at the Triumph Skiing and Biathlon Centre on Monday.

The Nepal Olympic Committee, with help from the organisers of the 1st Children of Asia Winter Games and the IOC’s Olympic Solidarity, sent Abhishek, Ajaya and two girls – Isha Tamang and Sujata Ngyasur – in a ground-breaking attempt to nurture a winter sports culture back in Kathmandu.

It was decided that the focus would be on cross-country skiing. “I didn’t know anything about skiing until I got here last month. It was all new to me, and to the rest of the team, but we have had a lot of fun and I have learned a lot. Hopefully we will be the first of many skiers in Nepal,” the 15-year-old Abhishek said.

Abhishek used to play football and take part in running competitions while Ajaya’s sporting roots were embedded in judo.

“We picked boys and girls who were keen on sports and decided to send them early so that they could learn about the sport. What they are now will be what they have learned in the last one month. They are new and we are not expecting them to go out and win but for Nepal it is a huge achievement to take part in a Winter Games,” said Jeevan Ram Shrestha, President of the Nepal Olympic Committee and a Member of Parliament.

Shrestha, who is also President of the Nepal Ski Association, added: “Although Nepal is a Himalayan country, the country with Mount Everest, our snow is all found at a high altitude, above 4,000 metres. It is very difficult to nurture and grow winter sports at those heights.

“But we are trying to build slopes for alpine skiing as well as cross-country and snowboarding at lower levels. We also hope to have national championships for these sports soon.”

On Saturday in the boys’ sprint classic, Abhishek finished 61st and Ajaya 62nd from the 65-strong field.

“It is hard but I really enjoyed taking part in my first competition. I hope I can learn from this and keep on improving,” Abhishek said.

“I missed my family and Nepalese food when I first came here one month ago but I have now made new friends. The Russian people are so friendly and I like the food here. I hope I can also benefit from all the training. When I go back home I will definitely try and continue to ski,” Abhishek added.

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