Ski Dubai welcomed the world's greatest snowboarder Shaun White (fifth from left). He is a five-time Olympian and a three-time Olympic gold medalist in half-pipe snowboarding. He holds the world record for the most X Games gold medals and most Olympic gold medals by a snowboarder. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Last week Ski Dubai welcomed the world’s greatest snowboarder Shaun White, who took to the slopes and hosted a once-in-a-lifetime training session with its cohort of Sponsored Athletes. The three-time Olympic gold medalist also shared his experience of competing at the Winter Olympics and offered advice to the talented young snowboarders.

Amongst the 15 young athletes was Emirati snowboarder Amenah Almuhairi (13), fresh from her victory at the FIS (International Ski Federation) Platak Open 2 Competition in Croatia where she won a total of 11 medals and became the first female athlete to represent the UAE at an international freestyle snowboarding competition.

Speaking at the event, Mohammad El Etri, Vice President, Global Snow, Majid Al Futtaim Leisure, Entertainment & Cinemas said, “Shaun White has catapulted snow sports to new heights throughout his decorated career and it was a privilege to welcome him to Ski Dubai. Our aspiration is to be a global hub for snow sports and build a national team who can represent the UAE at the world’s most prestigious sporting events. We believe that this begins with having a sustainable grassroots development programme and, through our Sponsored Athletes initiative, we are establishing a snow sports community in the region and producing a steady pipeline of athletes. Shaun is an inspiration and role model to the next generation of snowboarders and his visit to Ski Dubai is a further step in our ongoing commitment to nurture emerging athletes. We hope this is the first of many trips to Ski Dubai and the Emirate!”

Incredibly excited

Olympic snowboarder Shaun White added, “I am incredibly excited to be in Ski Dubai and to meet with its team of Sponsored Athletes. Having recently retired from competitive snowboarding, I’m ready to pass the torch on to the next generation and I was hugely impressed with the level of talent, skill and dedication that I witnessed amongst the team today. Attracting young athletes and nurturing their development is vital for sporting success and I look forward to watching the UAE represented at the Olympics in the near future.”

In 2017, Ski Dubai established the Sponsored Athletes programme, which identifies the region’s most talented skiers and snowboarders and provides a platform for athletes to learn, develop and hone their skills. The 2021 / 2022 team is a diverse cohort made up of 33 high calibre male and female athletes from eight different nationalities, including Emiratis and expatriates, who range in age from 10-20 years old.

As part of its commitment to nurture young talent, Ski Dubai provides the skiers and snowboarders with a range of benefits including unlimited slope access and more than 90 hours of coaching with its expert instructors who have trained numerous elite athletes.