Aanchal Thakur, who scripted history by winning bronze at the Alpine Ejder 3200 Cup in Turkey, said that India can become a ‘real force’ in winter sports if the government supports it. Thakur became the first Indian to win a medal at an international skiing event earlier this month.
Talking about the potential of winter sports in India, Thakur, in an interview to Times of India, said: “We have huge potential. We are so lucky that we have the Himalayas where we can make proper resorts for youngsters to train at. That is very important because winter sports are not an affordable prospect. Equipment is not cheap but can still be procured. What is more expensive is training. Rather than go abroad for training, if we can do that here in India it will be beneficial. The costs will come down drastically. We have the resources and landscape here to build ski resorts where Indian athletes can train.
“Winter sports has been acknowledged by our Prime Minister so I am confident that the Centre will support winter sports. It is my hope that wherever in India there is potential to make ski resorts, they are indeed made so that the young generation of winter sport athletes can get the opportunity to train. With the government’s help, India can become a real force in winter sports.”
Thakur, who was only five years old when she started skiing, said that she developed an interest in the sport when her grandfather gifted her wooden skis when she was a kid. Thakur said, “My grandfather had made wooden skis and given them to my father. The pair I used were also wooden, but those belonged to my cousins. They gifted them to me. Initially, we did not go to the Solang Ski Resort, but as a child I would practice in my village. There was just one pair of skis and we would all wait for our turn to use them in a hurry for our ski runs down the slope.”
Thakur also revealed that her father initially refused to believe that she had won the bronze medal. “I must tell you that when I told my father about my achievement and when I showed him pictures on WhatsApp, he thought it was a souvenir. He didn’t believe that I had won a medal in Turkey. He assumed it was a souvenir given to all the participants. But when I assured him that it was a medal I had won, he was thrilled. After that, what gave me the most satisfaction were the words of our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. When I saw his tweet my eyes filled with tears,” she said.
Thakur said that the Solang Valley in Manali, Auli in Uttarakhand, and Gulmarg are some of the mountains that are good for skiing. Building more resorts will be beneficial for the sport in the country, she added.