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EXPLORING THE ROOTS OF SKIING HALF A WORLD AWAY

A TRIP TO THE SNOWY ALTAI RANGE IN NORTHERN CHINA IS HIGHLIGHTED BY ANCIENT SKIING CUSTOMS PASSED DOWN THROUGH GENERATIONS

Urumqi, China. Ever heard of it? The city boasts a population of more than 3.5 million, yet I had never heard of it until landing there in late January 2020. Its airport serves Altay, an even more remote prefecture in the far northern reaches of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region, where another five-plus-hour drive would bring me to the village of Khom, my final destination.

On the flight to Altay, I started reading a book detailing an international conference held there in 2015 concerning the origins of skiing. The subject reminded me why I was traveling to Khom, even though I quickly found myself reading about Tahoe instead of China.

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