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Siberian snow and crepes cooked on open fire. Winter Universiade 2019 is going to start in Krasnoyarsk

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Siberian snow and crepes cooked on open fire. Winter Universiade 2019 is going to start in Krasnoyarsk


Sergey Vinogradov

About a thousand of foreign fans and tens of thousands of residents of Russian regions have come to the 29th Winter Universiade 2019 in Krasnoyarsk. The first week of student games, which start on March 2, will coincide with Maslenitsa festival (or the Crepe week). While in Krasnoyarsk, guests will be able to see and experience things that can rarely be combined within one tour - a sports festival, Siberian winter and the Russian Crepe Week. And female fans from faraway countries (Krasnoyarsk has welcomed guests from all over the world) will probably be surprised to receive a bouquet of flowers on March 8 – the International Women's Day, which also comes during the Universiade.

In addition to the many sports facilities and buildings to accommodate athletes and fans, the Universiade Park was opened in Krasnoyarsk: there you can learn about Russian traditions and indigenous people of Siberia. More than three hundred cultural events will be held in the city in the days of the student games. Most events have free entrance.

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The Universiade’s diversity: from hijabs to sombreros

The Krasnoyarsk Universiade has not started yet, but it has already become the record-breaking one by the number of participating countries, as well as by fast sale of tickets for a number of competitions. Well, let us present some numbers first: the Universiade will take place from March 2 to March 12; its participants will play for 76 sets of medals in 11 sports: biathlon, alpine skiing, curling, speed skiing, snowboarding, orienteering, figure skating, freestyle, ice hockey, field hockey and short track. Competitions will be held in 24 sports facilities, and 16 of them were built from scratch.

Crystal Arena Ice Place. Photo credit:

Athletes from 59 countries has come to Krasnoyarsk (according to the latest official information), which is the record for the Universiade. The previous one was achieved by Kazakhstan, which welcomed 57 national teams at 2017 student games. More than three thousand people have come to Russia as members of sport delegations. They represent the great diversity of countries - from Chile to the Philippines, from Sweden to Japan.

Bobrovy Log Fan Park. Photo credit:

Progress and open borders have done their job, and the concept of a winter sports country has been gradually smearing out. By the way, Russian coaches who deal with athletes around the world have also contributed to the process. Even representatives of countries, where snow and ice can be seen only in a freezer, have come to Siberia to compete.

Zahra Lari, a figure skater from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is a bright example. She will be one of the most noticeable Universiades participants. The athletes name became famous all over the world when the International Skating Union made a change in its rules only because of her and allowed performance in hijab without a penalty point. Zahra Laris coach is Alexandra Yievleva from Russia. Krasnoyarsk skating rink will be the Arab figure skaters debut in major competitions.

The girls parents, as well as supporters will come from the UAE to Krasnoyarsk. The event organizers have noted substantial growth in number of fans from the Middle East: popularity of winter sports in this hot region has been increasing. For instance, there are several indoor ice skating rinks built in the UAE. There is also a ski resort inside of a giant shopping mall.

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According to Konstantin Gureev, who heads the Directorate of Universiade 2019, about a thousand foreign guests are expected in Krasnoyarsk the tickets were bought by residents of the United States, Eastern Europe, South Korea and other countries. More than 250 thousand tickets have been sold in total, where the ticket pool contains around 380 thousand tickets in general. “Tickets for opening and closing ceremonies, as well as for figure skating performances and ice hockey matches (the finals and games of the Russian national team) were in the greatest demand,” Varvara Kutueva, the Universiades spokesperson, told the Russkiy Mir. It has been also reported that tickets for the opening and closing ceremonies were sold in a few minutes.

More than 800 journalists and reporters will broadcast live events, interview athletes and film stories from the athletic fields and streets of the festive Krasnoyarsk. The games will be covered by 39 international media organizations. The competitions have not begun yet, however journalists actively shoot and write reports from the Universiade village, built to accommodate athletes.

It is located within the campus of the Siberian Federal University. This is an actual two kilometers long town. In addition to living quarters, canteens and training halls, it hosts cultural and information centers, the Center of religions, a post office, a flower shop, a dry-cleaner, a tailor shop, a beauty salon, a barbershop, a lounge-zone and other venues to make athletes to feel comfortable in Krasnoyarsk. Volunteers have been settled nearby. More than five thousand people have been engaged. Most of them are from Krasnoyarsk, but there are volunteers and guests from other cities of Russia, as well as other countries. When volunteers recruiting was announced, the arrangements committee received more than 40 thousand applications from almost one hundred countries.

Peria Campus for students (residence of volunteers). Photo credit:

The Siberian Federal University will inherit this whole wonderful town after completion of the student games. The medical center will also be transferred to the University and will be turned into its health center. Some of the centers premises will be transformed into educational laboratories.

Games in the open Siberian air

The weather has been definitely favoring the Universiade participants. Just a couple of weeks ago, the Siberian climate tested the strength of the athletes during training runs and races - the temperature at out-of-city facilities used to reach 40 degrees below zero. But for the opening ceremony, the thermometer scale has risen to minus 6 or 8 degrees. The weather for outdoor competitions is ideal when snow does not melt and the viewers feel comfortable. According to meteorologists, such thawing weather is anomalous, and it will last for most of the Universiade.

The organizers seemed to know that the weather would get better, and a significant part of the cultural events have been transferred outdoors.

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Guests of Krasnoyarsk and the Universiade participants can travel around the city not only by public transport , but also by colorful shuttles. Buses with the Universiade design will go between sports facilities and the town center throughout the whole festive time. Traveling in shuttle is free of charge.

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It seems that the Universiade Park has occupied the half of Krasnoyarsk combining several parks and districts. A trot walk from one end to the other will take at least half an hour, but if you stop next to each stage with talented artists and performances, at skating rinks and souvenir shops, then the whole day will not be enough. Remue Menage, the world-famous French street theater, and John Newman, a British singer, will perform, among others, in Krasnoyarsk.

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One of the central attractions of the festival will be a coming alive installation of Taking the Snow Town by Vasily Surikov. The characters of the canvas painted by the artist in Krasnoyarsk come to life and are ready to be joined by any tourist who wants to bring an unusual photo from Universiade. The ethnic village arranged in the Universiade Park has caused just as much excitement. Here you can warm up in a real raw-hide tent, learn Evenkis secrets of fishing and hunting, as well as try on their national costumes. Of course, the Cultural Universiade Program includes Siberian Maslenitsa with crepes cooked on an open fire and burning of stuffed dummy it is a real folk-style celebration, which will take place on March 10 in the villages surrounding Krasnoyarsk.

And if the fans want to follow the athletes and do some workout, they are welcome to the huge ice rink - the skates will be given to them right there.

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