Kyrgyzstan may not have the storied alpine history of some of the major ski players like the Alps or the Rockies, but it’s not for lack of terrain. In fact, the central Asian country is 85 percent mountainous and home to one of the largest alpine lakes in the world, feeding dry lake effect snow throughout its towering ranges. The Soviets realized this when they occupied the country in the 20th Century, sending their alpine ski athletes to train in Kyrgyzstan due to the country’s consistent and quality snowfall.
Now, over 30 years after the fall of the Iron Curtain, a new revolution is sweeping its way across the country. Freeskiing has found a foothold in the western mountains of Kyrgyzstan, a movement driven by a young group of Kyrgyz athletes and a wave of foreign skiers chasing new mountains and new adventures.
In a new documentary titled Silk Ride, pro skier Ahmet Dadali and 2014 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year, skier, and US Army Veteran Stacy Bare look to bring those two worlds together, traveling to Kyrgyzstan to help put on the country’s first ever freeski competition. In the process, they get to know the blossoming freeski scene near Karakol, Kyrgyzstan and connect with a culture born from the mountains, but now experiencing them in a whole new light.
Silk Ride is not your typical ski flick, but it’s a great insight into the connective power of our sport. Cultures, languages and borders will always present their share of obstacles, but some things, like the love of sliding on snow, can be truly universal.