Maiden Alpine Premier League gets huge response

Manali: In what can be considered a first-of-its-kind event, some of the country`s best skiers battled it out in a four-day Alpine Premier League (APL) at the picturesque Solang Valley slopes.

The skiing competition, which ran from February 6 to 9, had over 350 skiers taking part, including seven Olympians in both men`s and women`s categories.

From strong teams like the various defence forces in the country to the local talents, everyone fought for the total prize of Rs 4.19 lakh.

As many as 24 foreigners from Canada, Switzerland, Finland, Norway and France also participated in the competition that had various events -- slalom, giant slalom, snow-board giant slalom, snow-board cross-country 5-km race for men and women and giant slalom both for junior boys and girls, and men`s veteran (40 years and above).

Local talent from Young Man Winter Sports Club Palchan, Santosh Kumar who has represented India on a number of occasions in international competitions all around the world, became the first to bag a gold medal at the APL.

Having emerged on top in the Men`s Slalom section, the 32-year-old Santosh said this competition marked the beginning of his training for the Winter Olympics in 2014 to be held in Russia.

"I am glad to have become the first gold medallist at the APL. This will mark the beginning of all the hard work I am planning to put in for the Winter Olympics in 2014," said Santosh, who had twice qualified for the Olympics earlier as well.

"I have trained in countries like Japan, Austria, Italy, Korea, etc and I think the snow here is as good as anywhere else in the world and really good for the skiers," he added.