From war-torn Afghanistan to the glitzy Swiss Alps, two Afghan skiers are not only inspiring an emerging tourism industry in their poverty-stricken country, but pushing to make history in the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.
In December, two young men from a tiny hamlet outside of Bamyan, northern Afghanistan, will make their annual three-month pilgrimage to the billionaire’s playground of St. Moritz, Switzerland.
But it’s probably not what you’re thinking: This is not a case of Afghan playboys thrusting off the yolk of their homeland for three months of freedom. It is instead a step on the never-ending ladder for two poverty-stricken goat herders desperately trying to become Afghanistan’s first ski Olympians.
Alishah Farhang, 27, and Sajjad Husseini, 26, will live in this alpine resort town’s only youth hostel, just down the street from the famed Kempinski Grand Hotel and train for up to 14 hours a day—just as they’ve done for the past three years—in an attempt to qualify for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games this February in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
It is the final step in realizing a seemingly improbable dream, one that I first heard about three years ago when I met them in their home country.