While most of the world celebrated Valentines’ Day with their loved ones, doing usual things like candlelit dinner dates or exchanging chocolates, a huge crowd gathered to cheer the players from Canada, India, Russia, and the US, had a memorable experience while they shared the collective love for Nepal, mountains and winter sports and witnessed history in making. Their February 14 became extra memorable as they observed the players of SKATE NEPAL exhibiting Figure Skating and a friendly Ice Hockey Match in the first open ice rink in the country which might also be the one in the highest altitude Ice skating in Gokyo(over the frozen lake).
Initiated by the Government of Nepal through the Visit Nepal Year Campaign, SKATE NEPAL is one of the pioneering steps to promote Nepal as a destination for winter sports. The event started with wonderful performances by Olympic Figure Skaters who marveled the present guests and observers including ambassadors of various countries, representatives of collaborators like TAAN and airlines like NAC, Summit Airlines, Heli Everest, and representatives from Hotel Hikers Inn. Similarly, as the chief guest, the Chief Minister of Province 1, Hon’ble Sherdhan Rai was present while Parliamentarian Mr. Jeevan Ram Shrestha, former Miss Nepal Shrinkhala Khatiwada, Vlogger Sisan Baniya and chairman of Ward no 4 of Solukhumbu’s Khumbukhasang Rural Municipality, Mr. Laxman Adhikari were also there to cheer. French Ambassador HE Francois-Xavier Leger, Finnish Ambassador HE Pertti Anttinen, Country Manager of the World Bank, Faris Hadad-Zervos and Country Manager of the Turkish Airlines, Abdullah Tuncer Kececi were also present. On the other hand, the friendly match of Ice Hockey was held with the players being divided into two teams.
The event featured various award-winning players including Aleksandr Chekarshev from Russia, former Ice Hockey player who participated in various ice hockey leagues, Russian player, Dmitriy Viktorovich Dudarev, one of the participants of 2010 IIHF World Championship, Elizabeth Putnam, a Canadian former competitive pair skater, and a 2018 Olympic gold medalist in the team event, Jeremy Abbott, the 2008 Grand Prix Final champion from the US, Laura Kottlowski, a U.S. Figure Skating Gold Medalist, Matej Silecky, an American Ice Skater who was part of the 2012 U.S. Collegiate Figure Skating Champion, Junior Men, Nick Kalisz, an Ice Hockey player and filmmaker, Patrick Chan, Canadian former competitive figure skater, and Sergei Evgenyevich Voronov, the ISU Grand Prix NHK Trophy winner along with members of Into-Tibet Border Police Team which recently won the Indian Ice Hockey Championship, Tsewang Namgail, Tashi Largyal, Jigmet Rinchen and Tinlass Glasston from India.
The took place with support from the Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal, along with Graff Figure, who provided around 30 pairs of Skating shoes and Screen Printing and Custom Apparel who has supported in jersey and puck.
As Open Lake Sports are gaining huge popularity in the world, the amazing success of SKATE NEPAL has proven that Nepal can tap into this market of tourism since the country is filled by beautiful lakes in spectacular places all over from East to West. This will in turn help in establishing Nepal as a country for all seasons. The success of SKATE NEPAL has also been able to explore high-end tourism products and a nice market in already popular tourist areas like the Everest Region.