Feet Firmly On The Ground

Seen from above it looks wild and free, exciting, fun, dangerous; close up it’s disciplined, planned, programmed. Skiing is a sport in which you glide through a world covered in white and feel the wind on your face.

‘It’s as if you are above the clouds with your feet on the ground,” I say. “In other words, it’s winter on earth but spring inside you.” Twelve-year-old Selin Açıkgöz, who has been skiing for ten years, breaks in: “Not just that. There’s also work, effort, concentration and balance involved. You actually learn while you’re having fun. Many things: responsibility, organization, sociability, nature, struggle…”

Skiing promises a lot. Especially in Turkey. Because Turkey is a very fortunate country, offering numerous opportunities from Erzurum and Kayseri to Bursa and Bolu. Even more so when you consider the modern facilities, pistes and auxiliary systems that are proliferating by the day. We are a country poised to join the ranks of the world’s most popular ski centers in the medium term. The only thing needed is promotion and serious backup of natural conditions with technological developments.

If you put your heart into it, great successes are possible through minimal investment and proper training at international standards. One of the best living examples of this is AKUT Winter Sports Club (AKS). Founded by two old friends, Yusuf Gürel and Mehmet Evcim, in 2004, AKS - aka Family Ski Lovers - has chalked up some important successes in a very short time. Already the club trains professional athletes with expert coaches at international camps. Fourteen of the 24 medals children awarded at the Asim Kurt Cup, held at Palandöken March 20-21, were won by club members - just in case you need evidence of its success.

Skiing promises serious success. But it also requires a lot of hard work. Therefore it’s time to dispel some mistaken notions about the sport of skiing. One fact: Like all sports, skiing brings those who do it, particularly those who start when they are young, serious discipline and self-confidence, in everyday life and in their studies.

Derim Evcim, who has been skiing since she was four, is sure that her school work has improved thanks to skiing. ‘Most of my friends,” she says, “dropped out of sports completely in order to devote themselves to preparing for the high school entrance exams at the end of elementary school. But I continued skiing without a break and I managed to get into the high school of my choice with high points. Because sports, in my case skiing, orders my life. It requires me to finish my homework in less time and be more efficient.  It motivates me.”
Can Göksel explains the positive effect of skiing on his schoolwork like this: “I have to finish my homework according to a certain schedule because I have an adventure awaiting me on the weekend.”

“Discipline, self-confidence, sociability… Besides all these I get inspiration from skiing, even when I’m solving a geometry problem.”
Turning now to the risk factor that is on the tip of everyone’s tongue, listen to what Burcu Açıkgöz has to say: “There’s so much risk involved in the minute and a half up to the time you actually start skiing... What is important is to know what you’re doing and be serious. And I’ll let you in on a secret: Most accidents occur not while skiing but on the road.

And this is precisely the AKS’s aim: To break down the prejudices that surround skiing, namely that it is the world’s most dangerous and expensive sport, and to introduce it to talented kids with knowledge and experience of snow.