Thursday, March 20, 2008

Skiing in Sikkim launched

To make Sikkim an adventure tourism hotspot, Sikkim Mountaineering Association (SMA) jointly with Blue Sky Tours and Travels of Gangtok introduced Ice Skiing at Phuni in Lachung and Yumthang on March 18.
Phuni is situated 18 kms from Lachung town in an altitude of about 11,500 ft. The first of its kind skiing in the State meant for general public and tourists was inaugurated by Mr. Hishey Lachungpa, Minister for Health and Family Welfare Department. The Ice Skiing would continue for fifteen days and it is open for all interested people of the State and tourists for entertainment in the marvelous snow. Mr. Kazi Sherpa, General Secretary of SMA, Pema Wangchuk Bhutia, Mohan Biswakarma, Mingma Sherpa, Dawa Sherpa and Sonam Wangchuk Lepcha preformed a breathtaking demonstration of Ice Ski. The six skiers have taken basic course of Ice Ski at Directorate of Mountaineering Allied Institute in Manali from February 11 to 25. On the inaugural day of the ski, there were many tourists. They were seen enjoying each and every moment on ski and playing with snow. They were even enjoying frequent fall on snow due to mproper body control. “We never expected to be ski in Sikkim. It is a great surprise and a pleasing experience for us from Sikkim. Now we don’t need to visit Manali for Ice Skiing. Sikkim is our Manali. We are not going to forget this special moment in our entire life”, said a group of domestic tourists who were visibly excited and happy.
Mr. Hishey Lachungpa appreciated the initiative taken by SMA and Blue Sky Tours and Travels for the promotion of adventure tourism in Sikkim. He said Ski as an adventure sport has a vast potential of attracting tourists from all over the world and Sikkim is fit for the promotion of Ski. Paljor Lachungpa, Managing Director of Blue Sky Tours and Travels,. said that principal objective of introduction of Ice Skiing is to promote adventure sports and tourism in the State, to generate employment, to boost tourism and to introduce Sikkim to the world in adventure tourism.

Phuni Valley beckons
Skiing in Sikkim now a reality

GANGTOK, March 19:
With the introduction of snow skiing at Phuni Valley on March 17, this picturesque valley located 18 km ahead of Lachung, will henceforth serve as the skiing centre where tourists visiting this part of the country could enjoy the sport in a relaxed pace.
The vast open spaces above the snowline have been open to the skiing enthusiasts. The awesome height at 11,000 feet and spread of the snow clad mountains, with the added advantage of powdered snow are tempting enough to magnetize the adventurous spirits of the avid skier, providing all the thrill and excitement attached to the game.
Realizing the immense prospect for tourism, the Blue Sky Tours and Travels in collaboration with Sikkim Mountaineering Association has successfully introduced the sport-a time for the tourists and locals to rejoice at.
The State Health Minister, Hissey Lachungpa officially inaugurated snow skiing in a function held at Phuni on March 17 in the presence of Senior Superintendent of Police (North)-Tshering Bhutia, Sub-Divisional Magistrate (Chungthang) Norgay Bhutia and Sub Divisional Police Officer (Chungthang)Tshering Norbu.
According to the organizers, the new Ice ski terrain being developed at Phuni valley will definitely fire-up the imagination of ski-lovers as it offers a new challenge to their spirit of adventure.
The educated unemployed youths of the region can now opt for undergoing a snow skiing course to become professional skiers and thereafter train the skiing enthusiasts both within and outside the State for monetary benefits, organizers said. Besides, the former can participate at snow skiing competitions at national and international levels.
Speaking to mediapersons, managing director of Blue Sky, Palzor Lachungpa, informed that the newly introduced snow skiing will be made available to tourists at the designated location for another 10-15 days on trial basis with its fee going up to as high as Rs 150 for a time duration of 30 minutes. “We will work on the project report on snow skiing, which will then be submitted to the State Government at the earliest for appraisal so as to play a host to the sport on a much broader perspective in the forthcoming future,” Mr Lachungpa added.
He further added that plans are underway on the part of the organizers towards organizing national level snow skiing competitions alongside to upgrade an advanced ski slope newly opened at Yumthang, 6 kms further north from Phuni and to introduce ski-doo snow racing with the sole objective to attract hordes of tourists to North Sikkim which otherwise the inflow of tourists was on the decline.
Meanwhile, Kazi Sherpa, a professional skier from Sikkim Mountaineering Association on his part stated that snow skiing facilities and training for beginners will be available during the best part of winter months starting from the first week of January to mid week of March but it would all depend upon the availability of snow. “This is now the only place in the entire north-east where the Ice skiers can indulge in their favorite sport in the winter months with a setting just perfect both for the beginners and the seasoned,” he maintained.
A group of six freshly trained professional skiers including Pema Wangchuk Bhutia hailing from Bojoghari in East Sikkim, Mohan Biswakarma (Saleptanki), Mingma Sherpa and Dawa Sherpa, both from Kupup, Sonam Wangchuk Lepcha (Burtuk) and Kazi Sherpa (Baluwakhani) recently attended a 15 day long Snow Skiing Course at Directorate of Mountaineering and Allied Sports at Manali (Himachal Pradesh) through the capacity building training programmes of the Sikkim government.
These professional skiers are available to guide and instruct the skiing enthusiasts in the sport.
It was a short duration requirement based course for beginners. The trainees were imparted training in elementary techniques of skiing like ski exercises, sliding on skis, straight running, side slip, snow plough and turn, fall and recovery.
Speaking to Pema Wangchuk Bhutia, he stated that he is positively looking forward to undergo a further advanced training course in skiing and thereafter participate in skiing competitions.