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Russian Supermodel Propels Sochi Paralympics to Record Sales

Published: March 12, 2014 (Issue # 1801)



  • Natalia Vodianova has helped the Paralympics Games be the first to break the barrier of 300,000 tickets sold, 20 percent more than the previous record set by Vancouver 2010.
    Photo: Vladmir Astapkovich / © RIA Novosti

With her willowy figure and smouldering stare, supermodel Natalia Vodianova is the epitome of modern beauty for many in her native Russia. But what if she had a prosthetic leg?

That was just one of the probing questions Paralympic organizers have asked of Russians, challenging assumptions in a country where disabled people are often on the margins of society, as "invalids" rather than as protagonists in their own lives.

Related: Sochi Paralympics Herald Sea Change for Russia’s Disabled – IPC

Education programs in the run-up to the Paralympics have emphasized the similarities between disabled people and the rest of society and presented them as athletes to be respected rather than victims to be pitied.

The strategy seems to have paid off: On Tuesday, organizers announced the March 7-16 Games are the first to break the barrier of 300,000 tickets sold, 20 percent more than the previous record set by Vancouver 2010.

“We had to educate a lot of people in the Paralympic Games and the Paralympic values,” Sochi 2014 organizing committee vice-president Alexandra Kosterina said.

Related: Paralympics Put Focus on Russia’s Disabled

“Natalia Vodianova, she is an ambassador for the Paralympic Games and she invested a lot of her time, a lot of her energy in promoting Paralympic values and the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Games.”

Vodianova, 32, was the face of the Games in one of the advertisements created by organizers, staring into the camera as various Winter Paralympians are shown competing. At the end of the clip, the camera pans out to show Vodianova with an athlete’s carbon-fiber prosthetic leg, an image apparently achieved with the aid of computer trickery.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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