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Iran's skiing hopefuls slaloming toward their dreams

China Daily | Updated: 2022-01-12 09:04
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Olympic hopeful Zahra Sulghani speeds down the slope during a qualification competition for Beijing 2022 at Iran's Darbandsar Ski Resort on Sunday. XINHUA

TEHERAN-With the Winter Olympics just around the corner, Iran's alpine skiers are vying for a chance to compete on the world's biggest sporting stage in Beijing.

"I hope to be able to qualify for the Beijing Winter Olympics and I would very much like to go to China," said 17-year-old Fatemeh Kia Shemshaki, an alpine skier who is participating in ongoing qualification competitions for the Games at Iran's Darbandsar Ski Resort.

Kia Shemshaki has been skiing since she was 3 and began to compete seriously aged 11. "All participants are making great efforts to qualify for the Olympics," she said. "I hope anyone who deserves it is able to qualify."

Another hopeful, 21-year-old Zahra Sulghani, has also been skiing since she was 3, and said "the competitions have a very good level and the contests are very tough".

"I hope that everybody is successful and can achieve the results they desire," she added.

As part of their recent push to qualify for the Games, Iran's top skiers have competed in Turkey and in Iran's Tochal and Darbandsar resorts. Next week, they will head to the country's Dizin International Ski Resort.

"Despite the insufficient snowfall, we have a snowmaking machine in Darbandsar, so we're able to host the qualification competitions and attract people to ski," said Mousa Saveh Shemshaki, head of the technical committee of the Iran Ski Federation.

Despite being located in Western Asia, Iranians love skiing thanks to the country's snowy mountains. Among the spectators at Darbandsar was 15-year-old Sahel Saveh Shemshaki. Her main job is maintaining the slopes before and after the athletes compete, providing the young ski enthusiast with an opportunity to learn from the best in her country.

"I like the 2022 Winter Olympics in China and am especially interested in these Games," she said. "I hope to take part in a similar competition in the future."

Mohammad Kiyadarbandsari, 33, has already realized his dream of competing in the Olympics, representing Iran at the Sochi Games in 2014 and four years later in Pyeongchang. Now his biggest wish is to book a ticket to his third Olympic Games in Beijing.

Kiyadarbandsari started skiing at the age of 2 and took part in competitions from the age of 7. "Fortunately, the situation has unfolded in such a way that I have managed to maintain my physical condition to take part in competitions," he said.

"I hope I can book a berth at the Beijing Winter Olympics."

If he fails to make the cut he'll be cheering on whoever does earn selection, adding: "I hope anybody who takes part in the Olympics as Iran's representative can manage to achieve the best results."

Based on China's exemplary track record of staging international competitions, Kiyadarbandsari expects the host to stage the Games "in the best possible way and form".

"I hope that the upcoming Winter Olympics will promote brotherhood, friendship and close ties between all countries," he added.


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