MINGORA: At the peak of the scenic Malam Jabba ski resort, a tea stall server waits with warm fritters and French fries for tourists about to step down from the cable cars.
They thank the man behind the stove after sipping at hot tea and biting into the fritters.
However, what they do not know about him is that this man is an eight-time national gold medallist.
Asmat Ali, 25, is a professional skier from the Swat valley, currently working at a tea stall at the ski resort.
Malam Jabba is a hill station in the Hindu Kush and boasts having the only ski slope and resort in the country.
Like hundreds of other skiers in Malam Jabba, Mr Ali learned to ski when he was a child on the slopes of his hometown.
“Since I was a child, I have loved skiing,” he said while talking to Dawn, adding that the sport attracted him the most.
“When we started skiing we used wooden planks and gradually we got better and better at it,” he said, adding that when he saw professional skiers in competitions in Malam Jabba and other places, he polished his skills and picked up on what he saw.
Since 2002, the ski enthusiast has been participating in professional competitions and is one of the most successful skiers in the country with 35 medals, including eight gold medals, and trophies.
Mr Ali is considered to be one of the best snowboarders in the country and is also into alpine skiing and snowboarding which involves skiing between poles or gates, downhill, Super-G, cross-country and other disciplines of the sport.
“I have participated in over 30 competitions across the country, in Gilgit, Rattu and Malam Jabba since 2002,” said the gold medallist.
In 2014, he took part in the Peace Gala organised by the European Union and Sarhad Rural Support Programme in Malam Jabba.
He excelled in the games and ended up with a trophy, a gold and a silver medal. Now, he says, he wants to shift his focus on skiing permanently. He wants to represent Pakistan in international events but claims that his financial status does not allow him to do so.
According to the skier, in Pakistan talent does not always translate into merit. He said that since he is poor, he does not have the opportunity to become a part of the national team.
“If I do get the opportunity to join the Pakistan team, I am confident that I will hone my skills and make my country proud,” he said.
He appealed to the government to give him a government job and let him ski professionally so that he may polish and develop his skills further to participate in international competitions.
Courtesy : Dawn News