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Meet Sochi's Gentle Giant Ambassador

Published: January 17, 2014 (Issue # 1793)



  • In this undated photo, Voyevoda examines the construction site of the Sochi bobsled track.
    Photo: VKontakte

  • Alexei Voyevoda — a three-time arm wrestling world champion and a two-time Olympic medalist in bobsleigh.
    Photo: VKontakte

If the decathlon were an event in the Winter Olympics, Alexei Voyevoda — a three-time arm wrestling world champion and a two-time Olympic medalist in bobsleigh — would be a favorite for gold.

The 33-year-old Sochi native, who still lives and trains in his hometown, has credited the city's environment for his athletic prowess, which he hopes to display in February with the Russian bobsleigh team.

"I grew up in the mountains and I would always climb trees with the other children," Voyevoda said in a telephone interview. "I was the fastest of the little tree-climbing monkeys. That is how I became strong."

At first glance, Voyevoda seems like an unlikely bobsledder. His thick biceps, sculpted by years of arm wrestling, almost seem too large to be squeezed into a 67-centimeter-wide bobsleigh. And his approach to the sport also seems a little too casual for an Olympic champion.

"Arm wrestling is a very serious thing," Voyevoda said. "Many more countries practice arm wrestling than bobsleigh. I plan to return to arm wrestling after the Sochi Games. I have many options."

Indeed, for Voyevoda, Olympic bobsleigh seems to be more of a hobby, a mere interlude between arm wrestling successes.

"Arm wrestling has helped me a lot in my bobsledding career," Voyevoda said. "My role on the team is to stop the bobsleigh. I do this with the strength I have acquired through arm wrestling."

But Voyevoda's mixed athletic allegiances have not hampered his draconian training regime and determination, which helped earned the Russian bobsleigh team a silver medal at the 2006 Turin Games and a bronze in Vancouver in 2010.

"I want to serve my country," he said. "I want to be worthy of representing Russia. The Sochi Games are close to the heart of all Russian athletes because they are being held in our country. But I feel this even more strongly because I grew up here. This is my city."

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at today’s Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nation’s premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the city’s elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolan’s latest film “Mommy” at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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