Abbas is a 24-year-old alpine skier and a member of the Pakistani Air Force. He had an unconventional introduction to his sport. According to the AP, he began skiing “by strapping two planks of pine wood to his rubber boots.”
While skiing is often looked upon as a sport for the wealthy, Abbas’ upbringing was different:
He grew up in a village in northern Pakistan, an area surrounded by mountains. His family couldn’t afford to buy him traditional skis, so his dad carved a pair out of wood.
The lift at the local slope only went up 500 metres – the downhill run at Whistler is 3,105 metres – so he skied the same smooth terrain over and over. He became quite proficient on that slope, on those homemade skis.
“I was the best out of the lot,” Abbas proudly said through his coach and interpreter, Zahid Farooq.
For those interested in reading more about Abbas: The BBC World Service did a nice interview with Abbas last week, and Abbas and his coach are featured in the first 5 photos in this Stamford Advocate slideshow.
Update #2: More from Pakistaniat.