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Sochi’s Veiled Ice Princess

CAIRO – A young Emirati ice skating princess has drawn lights at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, exhibiting her talents in performing jumps with power and grace while proudly donning her hijab.

“When I do competitions outside of the country people are like ‘You have ice rinks?’” the Emirati figure skater Zahra Lari told The National newspaper earlier this month.

“They don’t really think that we have ice rinks in a desert country.”

Lari is the first internationally competitive Emirati figure skater.

“We have a few younger ones who are just starting, so once I stop we do have other people who are going to compete internationally,” she says.

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The young Emirati skater, 18, started practicing when she was 11 after watching the “Ice Princess” movie.

“I started when I was 11-years-old when I saw the movie ‘Ice Princess’, I liked the art of it,” Lari told The National in a video posted on YouTube.

“My coach told me that I have a natural talent, but I think even if I have a natural talent I have to practice a lot,” she said, adding that she practices for six days a week.

The young veiled skater hopes to enter more competitions to improve her performance.

She has recently returned from her first International Skating Union competition, in Slovakia.

Yet, she has her sight on the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

“Some people think of me of being like a role model, but I try my best to be a role model to people and to encourage them, especially girls, in this country to follow their dreams,” Lari said.

Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one’s affiliations.

Scheduled for 7–23 February 2014, the 2014 Winter Olympics is a major international multi-sport event being held in Sochi, Russia.