Skiing competition in Himachal Pradesh draws huge crowds

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Manali, Feb 20 (ANI): Thousands turned up for a skiing competition here after nearly twenty years.

The Winter Carnival included a cultural programme, which provided to be a bonus for visitors this year.

"Manali's cultural programme was based on skiing. After that, for nearly 15-20 years, skiing completely stopped. This year, we have revived it again encourage kids," said Roop Chand Negi, chairman, Winter Game Association, Himachal Pradesh.

Last year, snow sports were organized in Solang Nala, 17 km from Manali and t was here that the committee decided to include snow sports in Winterarnival 2009.

Ten teams from all over Himachal Pradesh and more than 150 participants participated in this two-day event from February 16-17 conducted at Phatru Top, near Solang Nala in Manali.

There are four types of skiing competition viz Alpine Skiing (Giant Slalom, men and women), Nordic Skiing (5-10 km free style run, men and women), Snow Boarding (men), and Country Skiing (men).

Deepak Thakur of Youngman Winter Sports Club Palchan was named the winner of Alpine Skiing.

"The competition was very tough and many good skiers had come. During the first round, I gained a bit of confidence, but again in the second round I was confident that 'Yes, I can do it'. My future plan is to participate in the Winter Olympics of 2014," said Deepak.

Winter Carnival has become the centre of attraction for inbound tourists and snow sports have added more flavour to it.

The annual event, which started in the late '70s, was declared a state-level festival three years back in a bid to promote tourism in the hilly state.

Tourism is the mainstay of state's economy, which generates about 100 million dollars annually.

Approximately, 35,000 tourists visit Manali every month during winters. By Prem Thakur (ANI)

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