Afel was twelve years old when he saw them. ‘What are those?’ he asked his uncle excitedly. ‘Skis,’ replied his uncle. ‘And those people are called skiers.’ Afel was in love. He wanted to be a skier.

Do the preparation task first. Then read the story and do the exercises.

Afel was only a very small boy when he first saw snow. But it wasn’t real snow that he saw. No, there was no real snow where he lived. He saw the snow in a picture book. The book had lots of pictures of children playing in big white fields. He asked his mother, ‘What are those white fields?’, and his mother laughed and said, ‘That’s snow!’ She tried to explain to him what snow was, but Afel didn’t really understand. Sometimes there was rain where he lived, but not very much, so it was very difficult for him to understand what this cold, ice rain that his mother described was. It didn’t matter. Even when he was only a very small boy, Afel was already in love with snow.

He dreamed about snow all the time, trying to imagine how it really was. He thought of big white fields. He thought of the big, heavy clothes the children playing in the snow wore. He thought about feeling cold. He dreamed of being able to fly across the white fields of snow.

Then, when Afel was twelve years old, the next thing happened. One day he was watching the TV at his uncle’s house. His uncle had a big, new TV, with all the satellite channels. Afel was watching one of the satellite channels and a programme came on, and the programme was full of snow. Lots and lots of it. And not only snow – there were people flying across the snow. They looked like strange animals, like fantastic birds. They had hats which covered all their heads and big goggles over their eyes. They wore brightly coloured clothes. And on their feet, they had things that looked like strange shoes.

‘What are those?’ he asked his uncle excitedly.

‘Skis,’ replied his uncle. ‘And those people are called skiers.’ Afel was in love. Here was the snow, and here were people who were flying across the snow. It was just like one of his dreams. It was perfect. At that moment, he decided. He wanted to be a skier.

He asked his uncle what the programme was.

‘The Winter Olympics,’ said his uncle. ‘It’s like the normal Olympics, but for sports where you need snow – skiing, ice skating, bobsleigh, those sorts of things. They have it every four years.’

Afel found out that the next Winter Olympics was in Vancouver in Canada, in 2010.

‘Perfect,’ he thought. ‘Enough time for me to become a brilliant skier. Then I’ll go to the Winter Olympics, and win the gold medal for skiing.’

‘But there’s no snow here!’ people told him. ‘Where are you going to ski?’

Afel didn’t care. He made himself a pair of skis from two pieces of wood. He tied them to his feet and practised skiing holding two sticks in his hands. At first he couldn’t move, but he practised and practised and practised until he could move quite quickly across the sand or the earth where he lived. He tried to fly down the hills like the people on TV, but he couldn’t. He could only move slowly.

‘Never mind,’ he thought. ‘It’s a start ...’

‘How will you go to the Olympics?’ people asked him. ‘Our country doesn’t even have a team that goes to the Winter Olympics. Why don’t you take up athletics instead? You don’t need lots of expensive equipment to practise. Our country is very good at athletics. We have lots of runners. And every time we win lots of medals at the Olympics. But no skiing, no.’

Afel didn’t care. He found that Jamaica had sent a bobsleigh team to the Olympics a few years ago.

‘If Jamaica has a bobsleigh team,’ he thought, ‘then our country can have a skier.’

So every night, out in the middle of the desert, Afel now practises skiing down sand dunes. He dreams that the yellow sand and brown earth of the desert is the white, white snow of the mountains he saw on the television. He dreams that the yellow sand and brown earth are as gold as the medal he will bring home with him, when he is the world champion.

Chris Rose

Discussion

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Language level

Upper intermediate: B2

Comments

Hi, everyone!
This short story teaches us how we should always do. Set the goal and reach it no matter what.
We have very snowy winters in Russia. Sometimes we say, that we have 9 months of winter in a year. But thanks to this fact, we have a lot of winter activities, including skiing. I like mountain skiing, it's indescribable feeling, when you are rushing down from the top of the mountain on a very high speed. And adrenaline is pulsating in your veins, incredible, awesome!!!
You should really try it!) But first practice. Sometimes it's dangerous...
Good luck!

I have never seen the real snow. My country is not four seasons area. Hope that someday I can touch snow.

Hello. Have a nice day everyone this article is very like for me and a mind reason whay it lake for me that in this article talling about a man who made the purpose inspait of difficult. I like that man because he have the purpose. I'm learning English my oun for approcsimatly ten month and this is my purpose because I want to speak with the all world an when the man makes itself to make samthing inspait of difficult he will achivie. I wish Chris Rowse the best and I want that the autor writes more the intrestin of article. Everybody Have a nice day.

In my country there isn't snow, I hope some day i can touch it.

In my opinion, the message brought to us by this tale has to do with the remarkable children immagination. That one which is lacking of obstacles -such as the fear of judgment , or failure- that usually prevent adults acting creative deeds! I am not speaking about that kind of immagination that we use to call fancy, although i refer to the capability by which we can rethink the world that surraunds us, so as to change it! In the case of this short story, it refers to Afel's persistence of being an olympic skier although the place where he lives. , despite adult's opinions about the Afel "foolish" idea. However, we should not forget about our occasional powerlessness, owed to the fisic environment, or to the social one, which do not permit to do or realize averything we would like to.

Hi everybody! Thanks a lot for this useful drill. Iam wondering why it said wrong about the sentence**the skiers wear unusual shoes**
It is said on the audio "the skiers wear strange shoes". .

Hello maithem,

The story says:

And on their feet, they had things that looked like strange shoes.

“What are those?” he asked his uncle excitedly.
“Skis,” replied his uncle ...

This means that Afel at first thought that the skis were shoes, but, as his uncle explains to him, they are actually skis (not shoes). That is why the correct answer to the True or false question is 'False'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

I have some questions. Are stories like this suitable for reading practice? Could you please tell me where I can find clone exercise? And who is Chris Rose? A number of articles are written by him, and so are transcripes of Big City Small World.

Hello DoctorHiStreet,

This exercise is designed as a listening task, but you can use the transcript for reading practice. You can find many reading texts in our 'Listen & Watch' section, such as the Magazine and Stories and Poems, amongst others.

I'm not sure what you mean by 'clone exercise', I'm afraid.

The exercises on LearnEnglish come from a range of writers, and Chris Rose is one of them.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

What if I want some reading practice with questions to check my understanding?

I'm sorry that I made a typo, I just wanted to ask that if there are some cloze tasks here.

Thank you

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