Sponsored Project

Uphill Turns

Alex Pritz, Noam Argov
Noam Argov

Can a new adventure sport preserve an ancient culture? That’s what a 51 year-old nomad in Kyrgyzstan named Emil Ibakov is testing with an activity he calls “backcountry-horse-skiing.” Modernization threatens a 5,000 year-old nomadic lifestyle of yurts, horses and free movement across the Central Asian steppe. But Emil’s new sport might just keep nomadic culture alive by colliding a mastery of two worlds: ancient steppe horsemanship and modern alpine ski tourism. Backcountry-horse-skiing uses unique mountaineering Kyrgyz horses to trek on snow and climb into the fresh powder of the Central Asian backcountry, a cultural spin on chasing pristine turns in untracked places. But Emil is taking a risk in bringing ski tourism into his village. Will fusing nomadic traditions with a modern economic system keep the culture alive, or will it dilute his identity altogether?

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