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Sport Invitational Games

High spirits and good luck

Today Special Olympics Russia Winter Invitational Games kicked off in Kazan with the start of cross country skiing competitions at Lokomotiv Stadium along with alpine skiing and snowboarding at Sviyaga Hills Ski resort.

Easy yet difficult skiing sport

Cross-country skiing turned out to be the most popular at the Invitational Games – about 200 athletes will be competing after the opening ceremony takes place. The athletes from 30 Russian regions came for the ceremony and enjoyed it a lot.

“Welcome to Kazan! Today is the best skiing weather. I congratulate everyone on the sports festival! I would like to wish everyone success, high spirits, and good luck!” with this message the Chairman of the Committee for Physical Culture and Sport Albert Salikhov addressed the teams.

“I wish you the winning starts. See you at the ski run and may the strongest win!” the chief referee of the competition Elena Kudryashova motivated the athletes.

After the anthems of Russia and Tatarstan were played, the athletes tested the track to get ready for the starts at 50 m, 500 m, 2.5 km, and 5 km freestyle distances. When a warm-up was over, the athletes had a nice talk with the journalists.

“I like skiing. Sometimes it is easy, sometimes it is difficult, I mean when I am tired or the weather is not favorable. I participate in various competitions; my longest distance is 5 km. Today I ski 2.5 km and the next days in a relay. I liked the track and would like to come here next year,” 16-year-old Angelina Kuznetsova from Vyazma (Smolensk region) shared her impressions.

Lokomotiv has prepared special “boxes” for athletes right next to the track, where they can stay before the start. Several coaches accompany each team.

“Our guys are from Khanty-Mansiysk, Surgut, and other regional cities. The team has come to perform well, to show a high result. Today our athletes have run distances of 500 m, 2.5 km, and 5 km. We hope for prizes,” physical education teacher Vyacheslav Shumatbaev said. Together with the main coach Boris Letin, he trains young athletes with intellectual disabilities in the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug. “A huge advantage of the Invitational Games is that many athletes from different cities are here. Through competitions and communication with them, our guys can get a great positive experience. Our goal is to qualify for the next year's Special Olympics.”

“Our delegation is eight athletes who won regional competitions in 2019, among them are two male and one female skiers. All of them are over 40 years old and live in neuropsychiatric departments of boarding schools. My "trainee" Mikhail Kuprin today covered a distance of 2.5 km, says Vladimir Sidorov, a physical education teacher from Zemenkovsk secondary school (Murom district, Vladimir oblast). “Mikhail and 11 other wards of the boarding school where I teach regularly participate in competitions in all 15 sports available in our region for athletes with intellectual disabilities. It is great that in recent years more and more activities have been organized for such athletes. They train hard and a lot and it is very gratifying that their achievements are honored.

The competition at Lokomotiv finished in the afternoon. The official awards ceremony was held at the Burevestnik sports complex.

Frosty, beautiful, fabulous!
Alpine skiing and snowboarding competitions have begun today at the Sviyaga Hills ski resort as part of the Invitational Games with more than 60 athletes.

“Let me greet you all, dear participants, judges, parents, volunteers, guests, all those who have joined today's holiday here, at the Sviyaga Hills! I would like to express my gratitude to the Russian Federation and Tatarstan for such a high-level competition here and remind you that Special Olympics is a sport accessible to everyone. With its help, everyone can achieve everything!” Kristina Golovenko, Alpine Skiing Senior Coach and Advisor of Special Olympics Russia, Alpine Skiing Master of Sports addressed the ceremony participants.

Welcoming the athletes, the President of the Snowboarding Federation of the Republic of Tatarstan Denis Belov noted that the weather favors them:
“Welcome to Kazan! The snow is great! We thank all those involved in the preparation of the sites. The people are not visible, but their work is. Good luck to the athletes! Let everyone show the result they expect. And we will learn from you!”

As the on-site experts noted, the slopes were perfectly arranged, and the first day of the competition went exceptionally well.

“I like the organization, the way they help, accompany to the starting points, organize buses transportation, changing rooms. Now we need to explore the track, see how best to get around the obstacles,” Antonina Bobkova, a 48-year-old athlete from Moscow said. She also added that she has been skiing since she was 19, participated and won a large number of competitions. The athlete is doing several sports, including judo, in which she won gold at the Special Olympics in Abu Dhabi in 2019.

“I am in a good mood. I acted a bit foolishly on the track, but the rest is okay. I have been doing alpine skiing since 2013, since then I have become a champion three times. I hope to perform well here,” the young athlete Nikolay Fyodorov shared his impressions and hopes.

“A very beautiful, fabulous place. Frosty, athletic, cheerful! We like it here. Our plans are to taste national dishes,” told Irina Firsanova from Moscow, the mother of 12-year-old snowboarder Nadezhda.

At three o'clock in the afternoon, the sports program concluded at Sviyaga Hills. Competitions for both events will last until February 7.