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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

Monday, Jan. 26


Feeling stressed by the crisis? The Northwest Coach University at 3 Ulitsa Vostsstanaya is hosting a master class by lifecoach Tatiana Almazova. She will shed light on the coaching process, the usefulness of coaching during times of economic downturn and how coaching can improve your career and business prospects. The event starts at 7 p.m. and admission is free. Pre-register by calling 424 3700.



Discover the State Hermitage Museum's collection of English painting at a lecture by art historian Yelizaveta Renne at the Prince Galitzine Library, 46 Nab. Reki Fontanki. The event starts at 6 p.m. and the lecture will be followed by a concert of arias, songs and duets by English composer Henry Purcell. The event is free of charge.



Tuesday, Jan. 27


Celebrate the 71st anniversary of the end of the Siege of Leningrad on Palace Square with a free concert at 7 p.m. Listen to WWII-era songs and the poetry of Olga Bergholz while you peruse outdoor exhibitions dedicated to life during wartime. The event is capped off by a fireworks display at 9 p.m.



Stop by the Lexica School of Foreign Languages at 73 Ligovsky Prospekt from now until Friday for a free English lesson. The classes start at 7 p.m. and cover all levels, from Beginner to Advanced. Registration by telephone on 7641692 and a desire to improve your skills are the only prerequisites.







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