Sajjad Husaini, 25, and Ali Shah Farhang, 26, are from the mountainous Afghan province of Bamiyan, famed for its ancient Buddha statues that were blown up by the Taliban in 2001. As children, Husaini and Farhang fled to Iran with their families to escape the violence in their own country. They returned as young adults just as the Bamyan Ski Club was established in 2011. Lugging borrowed skis on their shoulders, they trekked up the Bamiyan mountains and taught themselves to ski down.
After winning three national championships in Afghanistan, the pair have been training as slalom skiers in Switzerland for three winters. Despite their lack of experience, both skiers qualified for the Alpine skiing world championships in St Moritz in February. They advanced to the semi-finals after competing in four rounds of qualifying races in the giant slalom, against competitors from more than 70 countries. "This was the first time Afghanistan was represented in the winter championships, and we are proud to be ice breakers," Farhang said. Now the pair of skiers are training for the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea in the hope of becoming the first people from war-torn Afghanistan to compete in the Winter Olympics.