NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Kenya will send a team of 14 players to this
year’s Icestock Sport World Championships to be held in
Amstetten, Austria between Feb. 25 and March 5, officials said
The team, which
comprises seven men and seven women, will depart Nairobi on Feb.
23 to join 35 nations from across the globe in the winter sport
that has its origins in Bavaria, Germany.
“The sport has been
in existence in Kenya for 15 years but lack of publicity is the
single most factor that has taken a heavy toll in the spread of
the game and thus confined it in Nairobi only,” Tim Ngugi, the
Chairman of Icestock Sport Kenya told Xinhua.
Although the game is
a winter sport, it does not feature at the Winter Olympics where
it has been demonstrated twice at the quadrennial global event.
The game, which is
mostly played in Germany, Austria and Italy, is similar to
curling where competitors slide ice stocks over an ice surface
aiming for a target or to cover the longest distance.
Although the sports
is traditionally played on an ice surface known as a rink,
events are also held on tarmac in summer.
Whereas there are
several disciplines in icestock sports, only target shooting and
distance shooting are contested in international championships.
Not many Kenyans are
aware that the East African nation sends a team every year to
either the global event, the African and European Championships
In August 2009,
Kenya hosted the Africa Championships in Nairobi which was won
Ngugi said cost of
equipment, lack of acceptance by members of the sports
fraternity, and non-existent sponsorship are some of the
challenges that have hampered growth and spread of the game
Kenya, which is
ranked number 21 out of 48 countries globally, Namibia and
Tunisia are the most active African nations, with Egypt and
Gabon showing increasing interest in the game.
Kenya’s first Olympic alpine
skier becomes UNEP Mountain Hero
NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Kenya’s first Olympic alpine skier Sabrina
Wanjiku Simader has been designated as UN Environment’s first
Mountain Hero, the UN environmental body said on Friday.
athlete, Africa’s “snow leopard”, is also set to become the
first Kenyan alpine skier to compete in the Olympic Games when
she takes to the slopes in PyeongChang, South Korea on Feb. 12.
Erik Solheim, UN
Environment’s Executive Director, said Simader’s voice will be
important to help draw attention to emerging environmental
issues in mountain regions such as climate change, waste, and
loss of biodiversity.”
“UN Environment is
delighted to announce the appointment of the Kenyan skier
Sabrina Wanjiku Simader as the UN’s first Mountain Hero,”
Solheim said in a statement issued in Nairobi.
Kenya at the 2016 Winter Youth Olympics in Norway, when she came
in the top 25 of all three disciplines she competed in.
Now she has her eyes
trained at the medal stand in PyeongChang.
The athlete was born
in Kenya but grew up in Austria and was trained by her
stepfather, who owned a ski lift and would take her out on the
She loves skiing and
spending time in the mountains. She also has a passion for
species such as the iconic snow leopard, as her racing suit
“Our mountains are
changing due to climate change, which is causing glaciers to
retreat and threatening biodiversity, including species like the
iconic snow leopard. I wanted to become more engaged to protect
these fragile and vulnerable regions,” said Simader.
“I train in
Schladming in Austria, a region that has already witnessed the
impacts of climate change, including the shifting of the ski
season, which impacts winter tourism,” she added.
The UN Environment
said Simader will be also lending her support to the United
Nations Wild for Life campaign, which aims to end the illegal
wildlife trade. Her kindred species: the snow leopard.
Simader said it has
always been her dream to participate in the Winter Olympics and
represent not only Kenya but - alongside other athletes, like
those from Nigeria and Africa at large.
“I hope I can lead
by example and inspire other young Africans to also follow their
dreams,” she said.
The Kenyan has taken
on challenging and dangerous speed disciplines, downhill and
Super G in her adopted home in Vienna.
Usually, racers from
outside the traditional Alpine skiing nations do not venture
beyond the less risky slalom and giant slalom.