Sonamarg breaks the ice, hosts first-ever Wintersports National event

Sonamarg, Feb 18: Sonamarg in Ganderbal district made history this Sunday as it hosted the 8th National Snowshoe Championship 2024.

The Championship was inaugurated by Ganderbal Deputy Commissioner Shyambir, marking the beginning of this major winter sports event in the tourist hotspot.

The Championship opened amidst much fanfare in the presence of officials from the district administration and representatives from various winter sports associations across India.

For the first time, Sonamarg’s snow-laden slopes reverberated with the enthusiasm of the country’s best snowshoe athletes.

The ‘Meadow of Gold’ Sonamarg is for the first time hosting the first-ever SnowShoe national event with local and athletes from different states will be competing in the three-day event. The event is aimed to promote Sonamarg which falls in the Ganderbal District of Kashmir as another winter sports destination, officials said.

It is a milestone in the winter sports history of J&K as it will be the first time that any National-level major Wintersports event is being held in Sonamarg , away from traditional destinations like Gulmarg. The championship is being hosted by J&K SnowShoe Association with active support from Sonamarg Development Authority, District administration Ganderbal, Department of Tourism Kashmir and local stakeholders like Hoteliers.

The championship started on Sunday with DC Ganderbal flagging off the opening race and interacting with participants.

Around 150 athletes from 13 states of different parts of the Country are participating in the event and the event will conclude on Monday.

Terming it a historic moment that has set new precedence for the bigger and brighter future DC Ganderbal, said, ” It is history made today as we are hosting first ever National Wintersports event in Sonamarg. The place that used to be closed during winters is now having full hustle and bustle with the event like 8th National SnowShoe Championship 2024.”

“It is a joint effort of everyone. From administration, Hoteliers, athletes as well as the SnowShoe Federation of India that granted the hosting rights to Sonamarg,” he said.

DC Ganderbal says he is delighted to see athletes from even South India actively participating in wintersports events like this.

Among others present on the occasion were the CEO Sonamarg Development Authority, representatives of the Sonamarg Hoteliers Association, President J&K SnowShoe Association Tariq Zargar, General Secretary Dr Altaf ur Rehman.

“For the wintersports, it is great news as they now have one more venue in Kashmir in the shape of Sonamarg that can host big National level events. Traditionally it is Gulmarg that has been hosting winter sports events over the years and it is the first time any major wintersports is being held away from Gulmarg,” said SnowShoe Federation President Mir Mudassir.

“SnowShoe is the sports discipline that can be held anywhere and in any part of India that receives Snowfall. It doesn’t need infrastructure upgrades but minor facilities that can make it possible. Also, no specialised training is required, one needs to be just an avid athlete to try out SnowShoe,” Mir Mudassir said.

On the opening day, multiple events were held. In the senior men long distance event, Gulbadin Hekmatyar of J&K bagged the gold medal while athletes from Ladakh bagged silver and bronze medals.

In Junior boys long distance, Ghulam Haider of Ladakh bagged the gold medal while Zaid Bin Mushtaq and Sulieman of J&K bagged silver and bronze medals respectively.

In senior women’s long distance, Sarojni of Uttarkhandh bagged gold, Zareena of Ladakh bagged Silver and Lata of Karnataka bagged the bronze medal.

In the junior girls 400 metre sprint, Abinaya of Pondicherry bagged gold while Tamana of J&K bagged silver and Fareeda Batool of Ladakh bagged bronze medals. In sprint men 800 metres, Gulbadin Hekmatyar of J&K bagged gold while Ghulam Ali bagged silver and Aadil Pundit of J&K bagged bronze medal.

In the senior women 400 metre sprint, Zareena Bano of Ladakh, Nusrat Sakeena of Ladakh and Bavithra of Pondicherry bagged gold, silver and bronze medals respectively.

In the junior boys sprint 400 metres, Umar Mohiuddin of J&K bagged gold while Hashim of J&K bagged silver and Javed Ahmed of Ladakh bagged bronze.

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