Ski sensation Aanchal Thakur finds freedom in the great outdoors

India’s only international ski medalist, Aanchal Thakur, 25, has always felt at home outside the confines of her home. She calls herself an outdoor enthusiast, but adds that her definition of “outdoors” is not the same as most people’s.

“Exercising in the park is not outdoors for me. I come from the mountains, and for us being outdoors means being one with nature. hiking or biking in the hills, there’s an element of meditation that comes with adventure,” she says.

“It’s outside for me,” she said.

After starting skiing at the age of 5, India’s top winter sports athlete spent most of her early years climbing mountains and then hurtling down the slopes in the village of Burua near Manali, India. Himachal Pradesh.

Like all outdoor children, she forgot when it was time to go home, only realizing that she had to rush when it was dark.

“When I’m on top of the mountain, waiting to roll down the slope, I’m nervous. I feel so small in front of nature. I feel humble, kind and respectful towards the mountain. the wind hits my face, I I feel free,” Aanchal said of his sport’s rush.

“I feel like a bird when I come down from a mountain. In this world, birds are the freest creatures,” she added.

But as is the problem for all outdoor enthusiasts, confine them to a small space and they go crazy. As Aanchal became last year when she returned to her village from Switzerland, only to find that her entire village mistrusted her as she might have carried the Covid-19 virus from abroad.

Aanchal had competed in the Winter Youth Olympics in 2012 before rising to prominence with her two international medals in 2018 and 2021 – becoming the first Indian skier to win medals of such stature in the winter sport . But just before the 2022 Winter Olympics, she found herself stopping dead and scaling the walls of her house.

“I have always drawn all my energy from the outdoors and open spaces. It all stopped abruptly. I could only train in balance and ride the static bike that we have at home. I watched my chance to qualify for the Winter Olympics slip away before my eyes,” she said.

Not only was Aanchal’s workout regimen badly affected, but her lack of interest in books and movies meant she lacked the distractions most others occupied themselves with.

In June of this year, Aanchal was back in business. And it was the unity she found with professional mountaineers that put her back on track.

She was part of a group of 80 women from 25 nations who created a world record for the longest women’s rope team to climb a mountain as the group reached the summit of Mount Breithorn at 4,164m in Switzerland .

“I was so inspired by the mountaineers in this group. I’m more used to going down a mountain. Going up was much more difficult for me, but they kept pushing me. After all, it’s passion that unites all sportsmen . “

We are proud to bring this story to you in association with Myntra’s #UnitedInSports campaign on National Sports Day.

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