International heli-skiing challenge begins in Gulmarg

Last Updated: Thu, Feb 20, 2014 15:50 hrs

Srinagar, Feb 20 (IANS) Around 200 skiers from the US, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada and India turned up for the first international heli-skiing challenge that began in Jammu and Kashmir's ski resort of Gulmarg Thursday.

The three-day challenge has been organised by the Kashmir Heliski Club and sponsored by Airbus Helicopters, a division of the Airbus group, a pioneer in aerospace and defence-related services.

In the first round held Thursday, 30 skiers qualified for Friday's semifinals.

The skiers will be taken across to Afarwat peak (13,500 feet above sea level) in helicopters from where they will be dropped to manoeuvre through to reach the bottom of the mountain.

A tourism department official said the state government was making efforts to promote Gulmarg as a key destination and possibly qualify among the top 10 skiing destinations in the world.

"Airbus Helicopters, among the only helicopters capable of cruising and landing on high altitudes amid adverse weather conditions, is playing a crucial role to promote the sport," he said.

Such helicopters are also being used in passenger transport operations to the shrines of Amarnath and Vaishno Devi, he said.

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