High-adrenaline winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding offer athletes the opportunity to compete against the best and travel the world, and it’s comforting to know that the sun-soaked UAE is not being left behind.
In fact, success in such sports is no longer limited to countries boasting natural snow and mountain resorts, as indoor snow centres are now credited as having started the careers of athletes who are going on to win World Cup events. Here in this city, Ski Dubai, our very own home-grown facility, has recently championed the very first snow sports team for the region, with the long-term goal of developing its talent and competing in international competitions.
Having noticed some exciting talent on its slopes, the facility spent four months scouting the brightest stars through a series of events and this has led to the formation of a 19-strong team of freestyle skiers, snowboarders and alpine skiers.
“We have state-of-the-art facilities here at Ski Dubai, which gives us a platform to attract and showcase the talent of the UAE through our sponsored athletes’ team,” says Chris David, snowsports operations manager at Ski Dubai and former skier for Great Britain & Northern Ireland.
“We will be conducting regular weekly technical training sessions with the selected athletes, which have been designed to develop their balance, agility, speed and style. The training throughout the year will focus on the competition cycle, ensuring that the right emphasis is placed on specific training in the pre-competition phase.”
The team has the benefit of some expert support and coaching from the likes of Mohamed Moulay, a former Moroccan national ski team member and experienced race coach. Moulay knows what it takes to succeed in the sport and will work with the young athletes to help them develop. In his eyes, success is down to determination and resilience, as well as the patience to develop on the long road to the top.
The young athletes on the team are very worthy members of this elite club. Ranging in age from 10 to 21 years old, they have worked hard to win their places. Ski Dubai aims to provide them with fantastic experiences, and is extremely proud to see young talent embrace the ambition of the UAE by demonstrating that anything is possible if they have the vision, drive and determination to achieve it.
Maryam Al Tamimi, 15, is a freestyle ski fan who has been training for more than two years at Ski Dubai and follows a personalised programme to improve. Born and raised in the UAE, she embraced the sport having enjoyed skiing holidays with
“I’ve always found skiing and snowsports really exciting, especially when I’m speeding down the slopes!” says Al Tamimi. “Being part of the team has enabled me to make even more friends who I can learn from and compete against, which makes me so grateful for the opportunity.
“So far, I have participated in skiing competitions twice at Ski Dubai. The energy and adrenaline you get from competitions is incredible. I would love to compete internationally and make the UAE proud.”
Teammate, and the youngest athlete on the newly formed snowsports team, Alex Astridge, agrees. The ten-year-old Italian has been a regular visitor to Ski Dubai since she was a tot. Over the past seven years, she has been part of a number of international teams, qualifying for numerous championships. And Astridge, who says she gets a real kick out of hitting top speed on the slopes, is rightly proud to be part of this elite group of young athletes.
“When they announced the new snowsports team at Ski Dubai, I jumped at it,” she says. “I’ve already had the chance to compete internationally, mostly in Europe. However, the idea of representing the UAE on an international level for the first time would definitely be a dream come true.”
And just like her teammates, there ain’t no mountain high enough to keep them from going for gold and flying the flag for the UAE.
Open Sun-Wed 10am-11pm; Thu 10am-midnight; Fri 9am-midnight, Sat 9am-11pm. Ski Dubai, Mall of the Emirates, Barsha, www.theplaymania.com (800 386).