Groom Gulmarg’s ski slopes, get them certified to boost its potential: Skiers

Skiers and experts say that Gulmarg could realize 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, says Olympics skiing coach Shabir Ahmad Wani, 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.
“Minus this certification, we are missing out on holding international competitions on our ski slopes. If we get certification we can have international teams coming here and practicing,” said Wani.
He said unlike Europe, where several slopes have vanished due to global warming, Gulmarg has abundant slopes.
Faizan, a skier said a beginning in this direction can be made by setting up a separate department for skiing or by handing over slope management to the Jammu and Kashmir Cable Car Corporation, which he said has better resources and access to the areas in the Second Phase of Gondola (cable car) where new ski slopes could be explored.
He said currently the tourism department gets to do global tendering for snow safety officer who clears the slopes for safety in the areas falling under Second Phase of the Gondola.
“More skiers could come if new slopes are explored. More skiers could translate into employment opportunities. Consider the number of rescuers we will need if international competitions are held,” said a skier, Junaid.
Nisar Ahmad Wani, who recently joined as director tourism Kashmir, said a draft project report for homologation has been received from the Indian Institute of Skiing and Mountaineering, Gulmarg, which will be sent to the administrative department for approval.
Wani said grooming of peaks and other facilities to make international skiing more popular in Gulmarg will be “conducted in full swing soon”.
Wani said the homologation and skiing enhancement proposal estimates the cost at Rs 44 crore and a global tender would be floated in this regard.
“Apart from homologation there are several other things such as the introduction of artificial snowfall in a low-snowfall year and bringing in machinery to make our slopes more suitable for international competitions,” Wani said.