Ermin Salaka wrestled his skis and a new rope tow at what’s left of Sarajevo’s 1984 Olympic ski resort. He lost the struggle, ending up a tangle of skis and limbs and poles in the snow.
But the 11-year-old was overjoyed anyway. Nearly half his life has passed since the Bosnian war closed the slopes. On Saturday, parts of the slopes were reopened at last.
The Olympic ski areas at Mounts Bjelasnica and Igman, 18 miles south of Sarajevo, were closed when the war broke out in 1992. Both suffered heavy damage, and it has taken more than a year to get even the simplest lifts running.
Two rope tows at Mount Bjelasnica - as well as more than 100 pairs of skis and a snowcat for grooming the slopes - were donated by the people of Innsbruck, Austria, host of the 1976 Winter Olympics.