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Finding his rhythm and dance in competitive skiing: Faiz Basha

From being rescued by helicopter for emergency surgery to overcoming trauma and rebuilding confidence, the inspiring story of a Singaporean racer’s journey in competitive skiing

Faiz in the zone doing what he loves most - slalom skiing. PHOTO: FAIZ BASHA

Our childhood years are filled with many first experiences.

For Faiz Basha, a competitive skier racing in the Fédération internationale de ski (FIS) league, this included his first experience with alpine skiing as a three year old toddler that ignited his passion for the sport.

Faiz is preparing himself for the Junior World Championships. PHOTO : FAIZ BASHA

Despite being based on our sunny island, he is still dedicated to his training and progression to prepare himself for upcoming competitions such as the Junior World Championships.

“Alpine Skiing is a recreational sport where skis are used to slide down snow covered slopes. On a competitive level, Alpine Skiing is a racing sport where sharp turns are introduced to make it a game of technique and strength rather than weight,” he described.

“Contrary to what you’d assume, skiing is actually a very physically demanding full-body exercise. The strength needed to maintain balance and change momentum at speeds anywhere from 40km/h to 125km/h takes a lot of regular training, not to mention the added stamina needed to train in cold, oxygen-lacking environments.”

For those of us who may not follow competitive skiing, Faiz designed a diagram that illustrates the various Alpine Ski racing events.

Alpine ski racing events, for the benefit of those who are not familiar with competitive skiing. DIAGRAM: FAIZ BASHA

He chose to focus on Slalom because it feels the fastest in terms of frequency.

“There is a certain rhythm or dance that comes with punching the gates and gate combinations in such quick succession,” he shared.

Faiz is seasonally based in the French Alps. During his training camps, he gets up early to commute up the mountain to set up courses with his coach before commencing training which then lasts for 6 - 7 hours.

His evenings are spent servicing his skis to be sharpened and waxed to maintain their grip and speed.

Faiz training at the Singapore Sports Hub's 100 Plus Promenade on inline skates, the next best option for training without snow. PHOTO: FAIZ BASHA

When in Singapore, you can find him working on his speed at the Singapore Sports Hub’s 100Plus Promenade. “Sometimes I like to joke that I secretly train in Snow City, but so far I’ve found that the most effective way to train in Singapore is on inline skates.”

“Though it doesn’t come close to simulating skiing, it does slow things down to a level where I can focus on my flaws and improve my technique, balance and reactions. I am also able to work on my speed by training on flat roads where there is no gravity and only my side to side forces to propel me forward.”

Faiz and his mother, whom he credits for introducing him to skiing for the first time. PHOTO VIA FAIZ BASHA

His competitive skiing journey began at three years old when his mother introduced him to skiing for the first time. His family had just moved to Switzerland on his father’s work posting.

In a country with a strong ski culture, skiing was also part of the local Physical Education curriculum at his pre-school.

Skiing was part of the physical education curriculum for Faiz Basha in pre-school. PHOTO: FAIZ BASHA

In middle school, Faiz was selected for his school’s racing team. At first, he found it a struggle to keep up with his teammates and questioned his worthiness and place on the team.

However, his mother motivated and pushed him to adopt an attitude to train harder instead of doubting his abilities and this led him to join a training camp where he spent weeks atop glaciers in isolation for training.

Faiz Basha getting ready to take flight. PHOTO: FAIZ BASHA

Faiz noticed a drastic improvement in his performance during this time. However, he also recounted this confidence boost as being a factor that resulted in a severe and traumatic crash.

“I had a severe crash while at the Super-G race. My former coach said that I must have reached about 120km/h before losing control and crashing into the fence posts.”

He had to be rescued by helicopter and undergo emergency surgery.

In spite of the serious accident he went through, Faiz Basha hopes to find more committed skiers overseas and kickstart their competitive skiing development. PHOTO: FAIZ BASHA

“The pain from the surgery was extreme, and I can still remember the many sleepless nights I had to endure in the hospital. Though it was easy to rehabilitate physically, it took many years to get through the trauma and regain my confidence.”

With the support of his coaches, teammates and parents, Faiz managed to make a comeback and started achieving podium positions. He was later elected as a Team Captain in his final years of school before graduation.

Despite this experience, Faiz is unable to see a future where skiing is not a part of his life. With the assistance and support from the Vice President (Alpine) of the Singapore Ski and Snowboard Association, he began competing at the FIS (International Ski Federation) leagues.

He hopes to find more committed skiers overseas and kick start their competitive skiing development from a young age.

“As a first generation skier I hope to pass down my experience to other Singaporeans in skiing or other snowsports.”

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