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Pakistani skier Muhammad Karim, the only representative of Pakistan in Sochi Olympic event, beat Indian skier in the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He will be only the second Pakistani ever to compete at the Winter Olympics Games following his friend Mohammad Abbas.
Ted Ligety became the first Winter Olympian this year to win a gold medal for the US, setting the best cumulative time of two minutes, 45.29 seconds in the two rounds.
Karim also made an improvement in Pakistan’s record. He finished the first run from a 4495 feet track in one minute and 43.44 seconds. He was 22.36 minutes behind Ligety.
Mohammad Karim taught himself to speed over the snowy slopes of northern Pakistan on home-made skis. Now he is his country’s sole representative at the Winter Olympics.
Growing up among some of the world’s highest mountains in the northern region of Gilgit-Baltistan, Karim caught the skiing bug early albeit with none of the expensive kit that many Western skiers grow up with.
He said that he started skiing at the age of four years on wooden skis made by his uncle. Pakistan’s ski federation is run by the air force, which stages annual competitions to recruit new talent, and it was at one of these that Karim was spotted.
As Karim’s skills progressed, in 2006 the federation paid for him to go abroad for training.
He trained in Japan and Austria and competed in various regional and continental events Exposure to other talented skiers from around the world instead of the boys of his village opened Karim’s eyes to the idea of competing at international level.
In 2006, he went to Japan for the first time there he saw many other skiers.
It was his dream to work hard and to participate in a major event.
Now his sights are set on a top 50 finish in the giant slalom.
“I know it will be tough among the world’s best but I have practiced hard and I will do my best to leave my mark at the highest level.”
“I was immensely happy that I was selected, especially because it is such a major event,” he said.
A respectable show in Russia will raise the profile of the sport in Pakistan and, Karim hopes, encourage the government to improve the meager facilities for skiing.
The Austrian government helped pay for a ski resort in the northwestern Swat valley in the 1980s, but the facilities were torched by the Taliban in 2008.