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Alpine Skiing - Saudi Skier Set To Make History At Beijing Games

PARIS, Saudi Arabia - Alpine Skier Fayik Abdi said he is hoping to spread awareness of winter sports in Saudi Arabia as he aims to become the first athlete to represent the country at the Winter Olympics in Beijing this month.

Abdi will compete in the giant slalom, which has attracted competitors from countries not usually associated with the suport, such as violinist Vanessa Mae who competed for Thailand at the 2014 Winter Olympics.

'The first time I skied was when I was four years old in Lebanon, my mom taught me how to ski and ever since then I've been trying to pursue the sport', Abdi told Reuters on Wednesday.

'I hope this opens the door for people in Saudi and people in the gulf tp try winter sports and to take part in the Winter Olympics one day'.

Abdi, who has mainly been practising in Utah since moving to the United States in 2012, said that one of his main challenges was not being able to practice in his home country.

'Obviously we don't get enough snowfall in the mountains here to ski, so I had to do most of my skiing in the United States and in Europe', Abdi said.

Two Saudi skiers had qualified to the Games, Abdi and Salman Al - Howaish, but as the rules allowed only one to participate, the former got the nod.

Abdi's coach Daniel Sanz commended the skier for booking his sport at the Beijing Games, despite having only seven months to secure qualification.

'We did it because ... the guys showed a really good attitude and commitment to this project and that passion brought them (him) to this event', Sanz told Reuters.

The Beijing Games run from Fen. 4- 20.



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