Back to the Roots

Dania Assaly skiing in Lebanon

By Bassam & Eva Turk, Sport Evasion

Please allow us to introduce to you Dania Assaly, World Class Ski Champion discovering her Lebanese roots! We discovered Dania Assaly on Facebook through freestyle skiers friends that we have in common about a year ago; We “googled” her to find out what an amazing skier she is, and thought that it would be really interesting to invite such an athlete with Lebanese roots to ski in Lebanon, and maybe explore the idea of her representing Lebanon in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi in the Super Pipe and Slope Style.

Dania Assaly skiing in Lebanon
Dania Assaly in Lebanon – Back to the Roots

Dania Assaly was in Lebanon from the 25th of February to the 4th of March, a journey rich with new friendships, great moments on snow, breath taking sightseeing and indescribable moments in the village of her ancestors, Rachaya. You can check her blog for the day by day action on  http://daniaassaly.blogspot.co.at/ but in the next lines,  we’re going to tell you about this lovely young athlete and tell you why we invited her and try to make you grow fond of her like we did.

Signs don’t lie: The first thing she was told by the security officer at the Beirut Airport was: Ah, you’re Lebanese! Why did it take you so long to visit Lebanon?!” The man was so right! You should know that Dania is a 3rd generation Canadian, with Lebanese roots living in Edmonton- Canada; her great grandfather and great grandmother, both originally from Rachaya left Lebanon around 100 years ago; her grandmother and grandfather from her father’s side are both Lebanese, and no one from her family has visited Lebanon ever since, except her grandfather some 20 years ago. Despite that long period, you’d be as surprised as we were to find out  that she eats raw Kebbe and tebleh and ftayer and many other Lebanese specialties back home; she even calls her grandmother, “Grandma Sitti”! We say: ” That girl is Lebanese but doesn’t know how much yet”! The next coming days will tell.

Ski Lebanon Dania Assaly
Ahlwan Wa Sahlan

Anyway, let’s keep focus; Dania was invited here because she is a great skier, and because we have hopes she could represent Lebanon in Sochi in 2014, which is why we had a meeting with the President of the LSF, M. Charbel Salameh who was thrilled and very cooperative; We agreed on the next steps and things are moving forward with the best intentions.

Dania Assaly skiing in Faraya Mzaar
Riding the Mzaar slopes

At that point, and after 3 days with Dania, we had the chance to know her better, and let me tell you, fellow Lebanese, if this girl ever goes up on a podium for Lebanon, she’d be doing it from the bottom of her heart, not alike a naturalized athlete paid to represent a country! I remember her saying: “Everyone I meet here says they’re proud of me! Wow, that’s so motivating and sweet, I don’t  get that a lot”. That was mainly after her interview on MTV (http://mtv.com.lb/Workout/Dany%20Aasali%2002%20Mar%202013), she even got that compliment from the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister,  in the same day! (Thank you Minister Wael Abou Faour for setting those meeting on such short notice)

Dania Assaly in Mzaar
Mzaar ski slopes – Lebanon

You would ask how Minister Abou Faour got in the picture? Well, as I mentioned above, Dania’s ancestors are from Rachaya, and who would be better to introduce us to Rachaya than our dear friends Walid and Liliane Maalouli, who out of their love for their village, were so motivated by the idea of Dania getting back to her ancestors land, that they started an investigation campaign before Dania got there! the idea that a champion from Rachaya would represent Lebanon in the Olympics got into them; actually, it was them who  introduced us to Minister Abou Faour , and when he knew what the plan was, and that her plane was on Monday (2 days later), he took the initiative and got us a meeting with both the President and the PM who showed great cooperation to facilitate the process, especially that her roots are Lebanese and that her achievements are impressive (http://espn.go.com/action/athlete/history/_/id/50712/dania-assaly)

Dania Assaly with Sport Evasion team and officials
Dania Assaly with Sport Evasion team and officials

Let’s rewind a bit and go back to that week end in Rashaya, the emotional highlight of the trip. Tracing back the Assaly family (Abou Assaly originally) was an adventure worthy of a movie or a book; going from one house to another, asking the “Mokhtar”, checking with the old folks, making phone calls to people working at the “Serail” and have access to the old books…and taking pictures and falling in love with an authentic village under the eyes of Jabal el Sheikh still covered with snow; it was simply magical. Alike every Lebanese village, you enter a house to ask a simple and quick question, and you end up having coffee, and making a 30 minute visit. Dania was stoked; her eyes were smiling, her face was shining, she was in a trance, in a zone, not knowing what’s hitting her; actually it has been the case on daily basis since she landed. Skiing was so fun, 80’s night and Music Hall left her speechless, Harissa and Byblos knocked her out, and now Rachaya, looking for her ancestor’s house, and getting the “oh you’re an Assaly, you’re Lebanese!” from every single person she spoke to in the village, that was a lot to handle and no time to process.

Dania with Lebanese riders
Dania with Lebanese riders
Dania with Lebanese riders
Dania with Bassam Turk

Everyone she has met so far on that trip was friendly, gentle, nice and smiling to her, and she has been so nice, polite and thankful in return,  but those who made an impact on her the most were the people of Rashaya: Walid and  Liliane Maalouli, our great hosts for the week end without whom the whole Rachaya chapter wouldn’t have taken place, and all what generated from it (thank you both for doing all what you did, Rashaya is lucky to have people like you), Raydan Mahmoud who took us for an off road trip on Jabal Sheikh and sent back with Dania 10 kgs of sweets and dry fruits, and was such a great company during the whole weekend… you think this was the highlight? Think again, the peak was on the last day, when we finally found  both her great grandparents houses and were told all about the Assaly family.

We finally knocked on the right Assaly’s house, the one that knows who to talk to, in order to complete the puzzle. We taped the whole conversation, it was so surreal, and no words could describe what was going on in Dania’s head or heart, but one thing is sure, her life will never be the same after that day.  She represented 3 generations that had left and it was a sign for those who stayed here that they were no longer alone left in the village. At that moment, I saw and felt that Dania started to feel somehow, in a way, to the least… not only Canadian, and she seems to like it! If a picture can tell a thousand stories, the expression on her face could tell a million.

Dania Assaly in Rachaya
Dania Assaly in Rachaya

The man directed us to Michel Malek Abou Assaly, the guy who can give us the last pieces of the puzzle, but before we left, the Lady of the house fell in tears while taking a souvenir picture with Dania, and that was another moment of the trip!

10 minutes later, we found Michel. He handles an NGO that takes care of blind people, and owns the key of the church right in front of Dania’s ancestors house. We took pictures inside what’s left of the house, and visited the 150 year old church, and Dania learnt that her family used to take care of that Church, and that they offered many icons still present there! She was living another moment, she needed some time by herself to process, but at that point fellow citizens, I can tell you that she had adopted a Lebanon that had adopted her from Day 1.

Dania is now in Austria, for the 9 Queens event, where only 9 women are invited. We wish her good luck from the bottom of our heart and can’t wait to see her again.

Dania Assaly has now a new fan: A whole Country.

Dania Assaly looking at Mount Sannine
Dania Assaly looking at Mount Sannine

Credits:

Our sponsors: Lady Speed Stick, Clearblue, Smith Optical (Blue Mountain), Armada Skis (La Maison du ski),
Beiruting & SKILEB.com for the exposure and for supporting the snow scene
Classic Burger Joint for the great meals
Eastline Marketing for the online support and marketing

Thank you all for  making this trip happen. None of this would have happened if it wasn’t for your support.

We don’t want to forget:

All the officials who showed us support and full cooperation
Everybody mentioned in the article above
Christian Rizk and Mrs Nicole Wakim Freiha at Mzaar Ski Resort for the ski passes
Charbel Sabbagh for a great company on the slopes and for the action photos
Joe Abi Rached and Walid Chehaid, from the “Democratic Republic of Snowboarding” for an unforgettable afternoon ride on the Grande Coulee
Issam Moubarak for lodging Dania at Mzaar Ski Resort
Zoya Issa el Khoury and Amin Dib from MTV Lebanon for a great interview
All the Rashaya people who were not mentioned above and who made her stay memorable

All those we forgot to mention…

You all made this trip what it turned out to be! A MILLION THANK YOU.

Ski & Fashion Festival 2013

The event has been cancelled due to bad weather.

Solicet presents Ski & Fashion Festival 2013 which will take place on March 23, 2013 starting 11:00 am at the Refuge Terrace of the Mzaar Intercontinental Mountain Resort and Spa. Enjoy the Diamony fashion show sponsored by Toni Sailer, Travel Team, and Mix FM, and in collaboration with Mzaar Ski Resort and Mzaar Intercontinental Mountain Resort and Spa.

Why not book  your room at the Mzaar Intercontinental or other hotels in Mzaar to make the weekend a fun-filled one! Call us at +961.70.103222 or +961.70.211503 for more information.

Ski and Fashion Festival 2013

The Mike Sport Snow Film Festival 2013 Ceremony

Mike Sport Snow Film Festival 2013 Ceremony

The Mike Sport Snow Film Festival 2013 awards ceremony will take place on Saturday March 9 at 1:30 pm at the Terrasse of the Mzaar Intercontinental. Voting continues till Fri 08 and results are very tight!

Mike Sport Snow Film Festival 2013 Ceremony

So you want to know the 3 winning movies?

Best Movie: Le Faraya by Jad Kobeissi
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drpAQ_ZUTuA

Most original : Off piste by Hussam al Ouaini
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=juE0UKZ5TIg

Best Air: Celebrating my birthday by Ramy Nachar
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gnPgz2KW91c

See you next year for another round of awesome creativity.

Italy on Snow and Mzaar on Fire

A full day of wining and dining and snow fun organized by the Italian Embassy at the Refuge Terrace Mzaar Intercontinental on Saturday, March 16, 2013. Enjoy an Italian lunch (by reservation – +9619340100) as well as a Fashion show, “La Perla”, sponsored by Ferrari, Martini, Aprilla, and Roberto Cavalli. By night, enjoy an impressive fire show and fireworks followed by free ski by night along with winter delicacies such as hot wine, chestnuts, and tea.
If you’d like to make a full weekend of the event, book your room with us in any of the hotels located in Mzaar.

Italy on snow and Skiing In Mzaar by night
Italy on Snow and Skiing In Mzaar by Night

And it happened as a full day entertainment within a warm and joyful atmosphere. Both adults and kids didn’t miss a minute of the amazing performance at night of the fire show.

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Events Not To Miss This March

March is almost here, and that means the weather is getting just a little bit warmer and events are rolling in. This March, don’t miss these events!

mzaar winter festival 2013

 

Mzaar Winter Festival 2013: Welcome the month of March with the Mzaar Winter Festival which happens to fall on the first Saturday of this month. Enjoy a full day of snow and ski fun at the Mzaar Refuge slope and stay into the night for free night skiing and fun activities.  For more info click here.

 

 

 

Red Carpet Classic Auto Festival 2013

Red Carpet Classic Auto Festival 2013: Mid March, make sure to attend this year’s Red Carpet Auto Festival where you can enjoy a classic car fashion show on the mountains of Kfardebian. Enjoy the beautiful weather, stunning view, and refreshing atmosphere! For more info click here.

 

 

Book your hotel in Mzaar Kfardebian to enjoy the full experience!

Mzaar Winter Festival 2013

Mzaar Ski Resort and Skiing Society, in collaboration with Chabab Loubnan, present the Mzaar Winter Festival 2013, a day full of fun on the snowy Mzaar mountains. Join your fellow snow and ski lovers on Saturday March 2, 2013 for an unforgettable day of entertainment and fun!

At 10:00 am, witness, Air & Style, a competition featuring the international team, Atomic. Watch the Lebanese Army perform a spectacular ski show at 3:00 pm. Later, at 7:00 pm, don’t miss out on the band that will have the Mzaar mountains ringing with music. Finally, starting at 8:00 pm, enjoy free night skiing!

There will be an alcoholic bar on site for your refreshment needs. A DJ will warm up the atmosphere and there will be prizes worth $4,000 including a Ski Season pass. Entrance is free of charge.

Why not book a room in one of the prestigious hotels in the area to enjoy the full week-end in Mzaar! Click here for more details.

mzaar winter festival 2013

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Dania Assaly, World Icon Freestyle Skier, In Lebanon!

From February 3-8, Dania Assaly will be showing off her freestyle skills on the mountains of Lebanon. With Lebanese blood coursing through her veins, this Canadian freestyle skier will bust her moves off-piste and back-country for cameras. This spectacle will be extensively filmed and covered in order to promote skiing in Lebanon.

Dania Assaly

Tips To Keep Your Car Running This Winter

Check out the weather! Weather Beirut SkiLeb Jan9

 

Winter is hitting Lebanon hard, and it’s important to know how to keep your car engine up and running throughout the cold weather. Here are some tips that could Save Your Engine This Winter:

Antifreeze:
Engine Coolant (aka Antifreeze) helps decrease the freezing temperature of water inside your car’s engine. It also prevents your car engine from getting deformed when the water expands to form ice. For proper results, make sure you mix and use the Antifreeze according to the product’s instructions.

Oil:
The precise oil and viscosity is necessary to ensure your engine keeps running despite freezing cold weather. You should always have the right amount of oil in your car’s engine in order to make sure your car starts properly on cold mornings. The last thing you want is to be stranded on the side of the road while the cold rain is falling around you!

Battery:
Your battery is another very essential thing to keep in mind. You should always check your car battery throughout the year, regardless of the weather. If your battery is starting to get old that means it’s time to replace it with a new one before the cold winter weather arrives. Another handy tip to protect your battery from the frost and ice is to buy a battery blanket which helps to insulate your battery from the low temperatures. A virtually free alternative would be to wrap old, used blankets on the outside of your car. Funny-looking, but very efficient!

Mike Sport Snow Film Festival 2013

Sport Evasion presents Mike Sport Snow Film Festival 2013 in partnership with SKILEB. The second edition of the online movie contests is here. Be your own director and movie star this winter! Shoot a  movie of up to 3 minutes long related to Ski or any other snow activity and submit it to Mike Sport Zalka branch no later than Monday, February 11, 2013.  The viewing and voting will take place February 15-February 28.

Prizes will be given to three movies: Best Movie (max 3 minutes long), Best Air In A Movie (compilation of 30 seconds max), and Most Original Movie (max 3 minutes long). Winners will receive $3500 worth of gifts from Mike Sport.

Click here for registration and rules.
Click here for viewing and voting website.
For more information call us at +961.71.103222 or send an email to [email protected]

Mike Sport Snow Film Festival 2013