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20 June, 2024
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Capturing history on the slopes: The 1962 Int'l Ski Championships in Cyprus (Photo Gallery)

A diverse convergence of Lebanese, Turks, Greeks, British, and Cypriots in the majestic Troodos mountains

Pavlos Neophytos

Images capturing a moment of normality, a year before the intercommunal riots of 1963, were captured by the camera of 17-year-old Yannis Michaelides from Nicosia. The Cyprus Ski Club organized the first international ski races on the weekend of March 10 and 11, 1962, on the northern slope of Cyprus' Mount Olympus. The event saw the participation of Turks, Greeks, Lebanese, British, and Cypriots. Now, 62 years later, "K" publishes these images for the first time, accompanied by testimonials from participating athletes, Loukis Christofidis (Cyprus), Melita Tsoutreli-Bena (Greece), and Mr. Michaelides himself.

On the second day of the Games, Mr. Michaelides, riding a Voigtlander motorbike, captured moments of the men's and women's slalom events. The images show the flags of the participating delegations, including Lebanon, Turkey, Cyprus, Greece, and Britain, represented by skiers from the British Bases. Among the 30-40 gathered individuals, athletes with skis at the starting point are visible on the right, with the Club's president, George Michaelides, overseeing from the side. The first photo also captures the end of the mobile lift, now gone, used by the British Base Army to transport skiers to the summit.

The second photo features Cypriot athlete Pavlos Michaelides as number 14, who passed away last June at the age of 83. He played a crucial role in the development of Cypriot skiing, serving on the Club's board of directors (1961-1983) and as President of the Club (1984-2004) and the Federation (1992-2004). His significant contribution in 1991 led to the establishment of the "SES Nations," now evolved into "Small Evolving Ski Nations," the only international sports organization registered in Cyprus.Number 14 is Pavlos Michaelides, who passed away last June at the age of 83, after dedicating most of his life to Cypriot skiing. [PHOTO: Yiannis Michaelides]

An essential figure in the 1962 competition was Nasih Geagea, captain of the Lebanese team and a participant in the Squaw Valley Olympics. Reports at the time emphasized his international participation and praised his statements regarding the Troodos ski slope. Loukis Christofides, a member of the Cypriot team, acknowledges a dose of exaggeration in Geagea's words but agrees that the games were successful.

The final ranking saw Lebanon in first place, followed by Turkey, the British Army, Greece, and Cyprus. Individual rankings included Nasih Geagea (Lebanon) securing the lead. Loukis Christofides attributes Cyprus' position to the infancy of ski racing organization on the island.

Melita Tsoutrelli-Bena, a Greek skier of Cypriot origin, participated in the races with the Greek delegation, filling in for the injured Dimitris Pappos. She recalls coming second in the women's slalom event.Melita Tsoutreli - Bena at the end of the route [PHOTO: Melita Tsoutreli - Bena]

Officials, including Cyprus Vice President Dr. Fazil Kuchuk and Minister Andreas Arauzos, attended the races. The Cyprus Snowmobile Club's efforts in organizing the international ski races were praised for contributing to the development of winter tourism in Cyprus.

[This article was translated from its Greek original and may have been edited for brevity and clarity]

Cyprus  |  sports  |  athletes  |  ski

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