Pakistan qualifies for Winter Olympics

Pakistani skiers have qualified for the Winter Olympics for only the second time, officials said Monday, hoping it will further boost the sport despite searing summer temperatures.

"Our ski team has qualified for the Winter Olympics 2014 after scoring the required Federation Internationale de Ski (FIS) points in various events held in Europe and Asia," said Ski Federation of Pakistan (SFP) official Iftikhar Bajwa.

The SFP said Mir Nawaz, Mohammad Karim and Mohammad Abbas attained the desired results in FIS events held last month in Italy, Turkey and Lebanon.

Bajwa hoped the qualification -- Pakistan's second after Abbas competed in 2010 Winter Olympics in Canada -- will help the sport to flourish further.

"It is a big boost for the sport and we will select the best skier amongst the three once all of them complete their five races by January 2014," said Bajwa.

Skiing is fast gaining popularity in Pakistan and a national championship is held in the northern Karakoram mountains far from the stifling plains of Punjab, where summer temperatures can top 50 degrees Celcius (122 degrees Fahrenheit).

The SFP, formed in 1990, is run by the Pakistan Air Force.

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