World SnowShoe Championship-2019: Kashmir racers participate in Italy event, pledge to make SnowShoe popular

The Kashmir based SnowShoe team that is representing India in the World SnowShoe Championship-2019 at Trento, Italy, took part in the mega race on Saturday evening.
World SnowShoe Championship-2019: Kashmir racers participate in Italy event, pledge to make SnowShoe popular
Photo: Abid Khan/ GK

The Kashmir based SnowShoe team that is representing India in the World SnowShoe Championship-2019 at Trento, Italy, took part in the mega race on Saturday evening.

The four member team from Kashmir joined athletes from more than 29 countries to be part of the annual World SnowShoe Championship conducted by World SnowShoe Federation (WSSF).

This year world championship race was hosted by Italian organization Societa Podistica Novella as part of the annual La Ciaspolada race that is considered as oldest and world biggest SnowShoe race. Despite not having any snowfall, the organizers made a track of 5-kilomtre to make the event a success. They brought snow from the mountain tops and filled the entire race track with that snow.

The opening day of the event saw flag march of the athletes followed by torch lit up and lighting & cracker show.

On the race day the competitions were held in various categories with main being men's senior race and women's senior category. In both categories, it were Italian athletes that emerged as champions.

From Kashmir Gulzar Ahmad Khan competed in senior competitive category while as Mushtaq Bashir and Arif Laigaroo who is acting as team manager competed in non-competitive category as part of the annual La Ciaspolada festival.

Gulzar Ahmad who is former national medal winning athlete from Kashmir was competing in first ever international competition in SnowShoe race. He did pretty well by running shoulder to shoulder with some of the best in the world. The race distance was of 10-kilometres and he finished it with ease but couldn't make it to podium.

"It was fun and great to be part of this World Championship. It is dream come true for me to see competing against world's best. They are on far higher level compared to the athletes from India. It will take time for us to reach to their level but if we work hard and focus on our goal nothing is impossible," he said.

Arif Laigaroo who is sports promoter back home in J&K State said that for him it was new learning experience.

"For me it is totally a new experience and it will help me in promoting sports back home in Kashmir. I have not seen anything like this before. The people here remain committed towards their cause and focus on their goal till it is achieved," he said.

"This year world championship was part of biggest SnowShoe race in the world and thousands of competitors in various age groups in both male and female sections participated. It was festive atmosphere here in Trento with everyone enjoying their moment. It has helped them to promote tourism in the region and if we do same it will us in same way," he said.

In the race athletes were representing SnowShoe Federation of India (SSFI) and the SSFI has proposed to host WSSF world congress meet and international open competition in Kashmir.

"We have proposed WSSF to hold annul world congress meet in Kashmir this year in September while as open International race next year in March. We are committed in making this activity popular in Kashmir but are taking it one step at a time," said Mir Muddasar, SSFI President.

"We at SSFI are happy that the team represented India well in competition and made their presence felt. We hope that it will serve the tourism well in our part of the country," he added.

The team is being sponsored by Heevan Retreat, Ahad Hotels & Resorts, J&K Bank, Mushtaq Group of Hotels and Kehwa Group.

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