No replacement for retired trainers at prestigious skiing, mountaineering institute so far
At a time when skiing at Gulmarg is in full swing, Indian Institute of Skiing and Mountaineering (IISM) at this world-famous ski-resort lacks a full-time training staff despite having witnessed a revival during last few years.
Skiers and experts told Greater Kashmir that in the absence of full-time qualified trainers, the functioning of the IISM has been badly hit.
As per officials, IISM which had turned defunct a few years back but witnessed a complete revival also saw nine of its permanent skiing trainers attaining superannuation. And in the absence of permanent training faculty, even skiers and skiing coaches feel the requirement for full-time trainers.
“Being a national level institute, it is the prerogative of the government to provide quality faculty to IISM. The skiing fraternity at Gulmarg is of the view that this institute should also hold ‘train the trainer’ programmes to improve quality of training staff,” said Shabir Ahmad Wani, Olympic Skiing coach.
The IISM which was set up by the Department of Tourism of Government of India in 1969 with an aim to introduce adventure sports among the youth and to promote the tourism industry has seen many ups and downs.
However, skiers say engaging full-time and qualified training staff at this institute is the need of the hour. “This institute trains hundreds of students in basic, intermediate and advanced courses of skiing but only full-time and qualified faculty can do justice to the legacy of this institute,” said a skier.
When contacted, principal, IISM, Col JS Dhillon told Greater Kashmir that the institute has groomed several qualified trainers in advance courses adding that the issue of recruiting full-time trainers "is lying with the central government".
“We have 11 trainers who are well trained and visit us during winters. Their conduct with the students especially the high-end clientele is exemplary. But we have taken-up the issue of full-time training staff with the central government and are hopeful to get them soon,” Dhillon said. “At a time when the institute had become defunct, we had 9 trainers but we have conveyed it to the ministry that now that we train almost 2000 students every year, we would need a better strength of trainers”.
However, skiers and experts say that apart from having well-qualified full time trainers, Gulmarg could realise its full skiing potential if its slopes are groomed and if the authorities concerned get its slopes, especially those in Apharwat range, certified by the Federation of International Skiing.
For competitive skiing, certification of ski slopes is important. The Federation takes into account different parameters such as the vertical drop, width and degree of a ski slope. Pertinently, with heavy and early snowfall this year, various snow-related activities are being held to make Gulmarg a more sough-after tourist destination. Snowboarding, snow cycling, ice-skating and snow rugby are some of the major attractions in Gulmarg this year. Ice parks have been set-up and other activities are being held to attract more skiers and adventure sports lovers.