4th Khelo Winter Games kept Gulmarg abuzz

The spectacular display of five day sports show of 4th edition of Khelo India Winter Games, 2024 came to an end on February 25, at an impressive closing ceremony at Golf Course Gulmarg.

The 4th edition of KIWG crowned Army as new champions which clinched the top position with 10 gold, 5 silver and 6 bronze medals followed by first runner up Karnataka with 9 gold & 2 silver medals and 2nd runner up Maharashtra with 7 gold, 8 silver & 7 bronze medals. The J&K is placed at 9th position in the medal tally with 1 gold, 6 Silver and 4 bronze medals.

From hosts Shahid Ahmad Chach clinched sole Gold medal in Verticle Ski Mountaineering while he also won silver in another discipline of Sprint and shared a bronze with three other colleagues in Ski Mountaineering Men Relay group. 

The famous winter ski destination Gulmarg in the Kashmir valley was once again abuzz with the start of the fourth edition of Khelo India. Approximately 800 athletes, officials, and international players participated in various winter sporting events, including snowboarding, alpine skiing, Nordic skiing, and snow mountaineering.

Gulmarg, which is called the crown of Kashmir, is counted among the best ski destinations in the world, and till now Gulmarg has produced many international players for the country who have participated in various international competitions apart from the Olympics and have brought glory to the country. Talking about Gulmarg, this place is always known for its best snow powder and wild alpine ski slopes.

Games in Gulmarg are held at a time when the Kashmir Valley witnessed a prolonged dry spell during the peak winter months of December and January. However, multiple spells of snowfall have come to the rescue of these games this month.

Khelo India Winter Games 2024 started with a bang in Jammu and Kashmir. The fourth edition of Khelo India Winter Games 2024 starts from February 21 in Gulmarg as over 800 athletes from different parts of the country are participating in the winter games.

The event promises an exciting showcase of winter sports against the picturesque backdrop of abundant snowfall in Gulmarg. Athletes from diverse states will compete in a variety of winter sports during these Winter Games. 

The featured events encompass snowboarding, alpine skiing, nordic skiing, and snow mountaineering. With representation from 20 states and Union Territories in alpine ski, nordic ski, and snowboarding, and 10 states in the ski mountaineering competition, the event is set to showcase a wide array of talents.

Notably, the initial segment of the games, featuring Ice Hockey and Ice Skating, took place in Leh on February 2, 2024 owing to the dry winter conditions in Gulmarg.

In collaboration with the Tourism Department, Gulmarg Development Authority, and various stakeholders, the Department of Youth Services and Sports along with the Jammu and Kashmir Sports Council is orchestrating the event. Commenced on 21 February, 2024 and concluded on 25 February, 2024, the organised Winter Games showcase a joint effort to promote sports and tourism in the region.

The Snow Leopard has been selected as the mascot for the Khelo India Winter Games, symbolizing a commitment to wildlife conservation, preserving natural habitats, and addressing mountain development concerns of the locals.

Anticipating the participation of over 800 athletes from 13 states under the central government’s flagship Khelo India scheme, these Winter Games are poised not only to showcase sporting prowess but also to stimulate tourism and bolster the local economy, according to officials.

KIWG 2024 is the fourth edition of the grassroots-level multi-sport competition under the aegis of the union government’s Khelo India programme. Started in 2020, KIWG seeks to promote winter sports in the country and has been met with widespread enthusiasm over the years.

In the Ladakh leg of the competition, a total of 344 athletes, representing 15 states and Union Territories and two public institutions competed for medals in two sports – ice hockey and speed skating.

Gulmarg is one of the few destinations in the country deemed fit for winter games. This is the highest platform for those interested in winter games. Players have to compete and achieve ranks to eventually compete in the bigger sports events like Olympics. Even local players are exposed to level of competition through these events..

The Khelo India Winter Games operates in a team championship format, wherein the medals earned by individual athletes or teams contribute to the overall medals tally of their respective state, Union Territory (UT) or institutions. Upon the event’s conclusion, the team securing the highest count of gold medals is declared the winner.

Co-hosts Jammu and Kashmir, who topped the Khelo India Winter Games 2023 medal table with 26 gold medals, 25 silver and 25 bronze, are the reigning KIWG champions. Services, Karnataka and Maharashtra finished runner-ups in the last three editions, respectively.

The excitement was palpable among the athletes and spectators, as the fresh snow promises excellent conditions for the competitions. The administration’s efforts to ensure maximum preparations for the event have paid off, with the resort fully equipped to host the games and welcome its guests.

With the fresh spell of heavy snowfall, Baramulla and Gulmarg have turned into picturesque wonderland with pristine layers of fluffy snow. The current spell of wet weather has provided ideal conditions for the conduct of games.

Master cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, who enjoyed his first-ever trip to Kashmir, engaged in spirited gully cricket matches with locals amidst the picturesque surroundings of Gulmarg. 

Recent heavy snowfall has transformed the region into a winter wonderland, attracting tourists and locals. The fresh snow promises excellent conditions for the competitions, showcasing the best of India’s winter sports talent amidst breathtaking beauty.

Tourists and locals have been captivated by the transformed landscape. Gulmarg, already renowned for its scenic beauty, has reached 100% occupancy, with visitors are expressing their joy and wonder at the snowfall. It’s a dream come true for many, turning the valley into a playground for winter sports enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

The snowfall has been a boon not just for tourism but for the local populace as well. Snow is a necessity and a blessing for the region, underscoring its importance for tourism and agriculture. Sonmarg, another gem in Kashmir’s crown, has also received significant snowfall, remaining open to tourists for the first time during the winter months, a move that has been widely appreciated.

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