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Putin Opens Winter Paralympics in Sochi

Published: March 8, 2014 (Issue # 1800)



  • Fireworks at the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games in Sochi.
    Photo: Maxim Bogodvid / RIA Novosti

Russian President Vladimir Putin declared the 11th Paralympic Winter Games open Friday at a grandiose opening ceremony in Sochi.

The Games, the first to be held in Russia, will feature 547 athletes from 45 countries across nine days of competition on the Black Sea coast and in the Caucasus Mountains.

Related: Medvedev Urges Sochi Organizers 'Not to Relax' Ahead of Paralympics

I declare open the Winter Paralympic Games 2014, Sochi, Putin said.

In a statement issued by organizers, Putin added: Sochi 2014 will gather a record number of athletes representing the Paralympic movement.

And we will do everything we can to make every one of them feel at home in Russia, among close friends, so that they can show their skills, athletic character and conquer new heights.

Related: Sochi Paralympics Herald Sea Change for Russias Disabled IPC

In a lavish ceremony themed around the concepts of unity and inclusiveness, disabled performers played prominent roles as singers and dancers.

Oscar-winning animator Alexander Petrov provided regular hand-drawn interludes featuring the firebird, a magical creature from Russian fairytale, while another Oscar laureate, Mexicos Eugenio Caballero, oversaw set design.

During the parade of athletes from the competing nations, only a single flag-bearer represented the Ukrainian team, which said earlier in the day that it would not stage a boycott over unrest in its home country.

Together you are the catalysts for change. You have the ability to change perceptions and alter attitudes like no other, International Paralympic Committee president Philip Craven told athletes.

You will leave as role models, heroes, pioneers and, most of all, proud Paralympians.

The ceremony ended with a vast model icebreaker cruising through the Fisht Olympic Stadium, symbolising the breaking down of barriers at the Paralympics.

The Paralympic cauldron in the park outside the stadium was lit by two Russian Paralympic icons, two-time gold medal-winning swimmer Olesya Vladykina and Sergei Shilov, a six-time gold medalist in cross-country skiing.

The Paralympics run through March 16 and feature 72 medal events in five sports, the highest number for any Winter Paralympics to date.

To date, 283,000 tickets have been sold for the Sochi Paralympics, organizers said earlier in the day. That is about 50,000 more than the Winter Games record set by Vancouver in 2010.





 

ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Sept. 3


Although the Peter and Paul Fortress sand sculptures are more central and therefore more visible to the throngs of tourists, the 300th Anniversary Park of St. Petersburgs own collection closes today. The World Collection of Sand Sculptures that have been on display at the park reaches its final day, so fans of the classic beach activity should get there while they can.



Thursday, Sept. 4


Vladimir I. Danchenkov, Head of Baltic Customs, will be in attendance during AmChams Customs and Transportation Committee Meeting convening this afternoon at the organizations office near St. Isaacs Square at 3 p.m.



Friday, Sept. 5


Scrabble lovers and chess masters get their chance to assert their intellectual dominance at the return of the British Book Centers Board Game Evenings tonight. Held weekly on Friday nights, the event gives both board game lovers and those hoping to improve their English the chance to meet, greet and compete. Check out the centers VK page for more details.



Saturday, Sept. 6


Athletes will relish the chance to get the latest gear and try out something new at I Choose Sport, an annual event at Lenexpo forum that plans to welcome more than 30,000 people this week to the international exhibition center. Not only will visitors get to try their hand at various athletic endeavors but they will also be able to peruse equipment that can fulfill their dreams of becoming a champion.


Local KHL team SKA St. Petersburg open their season this evening at home against Lokomotiv Yarovslavl at the Ice Palace arena next to the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. See their website for a full schedule and available tickets.



Sunday, Sept. 7


Check out retro and antique cars at Fort Konstantin on Kronstadt Island in the Gulf of Finland at FORTuna, a yearly car festival that highlights the eccentricities of the Soviet automobile industry. A car race, contests and a stunt show will give visitors a chance to rev their engines.



Monday, Sept. 8


This evening marks the opening of the two-week ballet festival High Season at the Mikhailovsky Theater. Check the theaters website for more details about performances and featured dancers.



Tuesday, Sept. 9


Discuss the latest news and issues at the AmCham Hazardous Waste Management Roundtable this morning in the Tango Conference Hall of the Sokos Hotel Palace Bridge on Birzhevoy Pereulok. Starting at 9 a.m., planned topics include the Krasny Bor landfill and waste transportation between Russia and Finland.


Learn more about the citys modern architectural trends at the SPIBA Real Estate and Construction Committees meeting on the topic Contemporary Petersburg Style: What is It? Participants will get the chance to discuss whats in-demand with RBI Holdings Irina Petrova and Lubava Pryanikova, and the current state of the local real estate market. Please confirm your attendance by Sept. 5 through SPIBAs website if you wish to attend.



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