The 29th FISU Winter Universiade has come to an end in Krasnoyarsk with the closing ceremony being held at the city’s Platinum Arena Ice Arena.
The Closing Ceremony of the Games, attended by Dmitry Medvedev, Prime Minister of the Russian Federation; Oleg Matytsin, President of the International University Sports Federation (FISU), and other guests of honour, brought the curtain down on what has been a fascinating 11 days of action.
From 2 to 12 March, this edition of the FISU Winter Universiade was the first to be held in Russia in the history of university sports. The participation of 58 countries with nearly 1700 athletes was a new record along with many other firsts. Ski orienteering made its Universiade debut whilst the United Arab Emirates participated in the winter sport spectacle for the first time. Zahra Lari, the country’s first international-level figure skater won the hearts of many and received accolades as she performed in her hijab.
The tone of the Winter Universiade was perhaps set right from the opening day when cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko spoke to the athletes from outer space during the Opening Ceremony. By the time the 76 medal events came to an end, the Winter Universiade and student sport itself were touching new heights.
Some of the standout stars of the games were Russian cross-country skier Alisa Zhambalova, who swept up four gold medals, whilst her compatriot Ivan Yakimushkin won three gold medals in the men’s cross-country events. Korea’s Jiwon Park ruled short track speed skating with two gold and one bronze, while Austria’s Jessica Gfrerer was the standout alpine skier with three golds in the Super-G, alpine combined and the parallel nations mixed team event. The latter event featured for the second time in Winter Universiade history and this mixed team event proved to be a real hit with spectators. The competition format plays to the roots of university sports as both the male and female skiers play an equal role in the outcome as teams of two male and two female student-athletes compete together in a knock out format.
The Russian Federation became the leader of the overall medal standings at the end of the competitions, winning 112 medals of which 41 were golds). South Korea came second with 14 medals (six golds), with Japan taking third place with 13 medals (five golds).
As had been the case with its spectacular opening event, the Closing Ceremony presentation was a beautiful amalgamation of music, dance, culture and the nations’ parade. It began with the demonstration of the best moments of the Games with a video showing the 29th Winter Universiade Krasnoyarsk 2019 highlights, from the contrasting emotions of victory and loss to the welcome of athletes by spectators.
The Ceremony’s creative part saw the performance of Youth Energy, Sport’s Triumph by the ice dancers from Krasnoyarsk and Adelina Sotnikova, 2014 Olympic champion. Then the flags of 58 countries participating in the Games were carried around the arena, and the athletes marched in a joint parade that united the delegations from different countries.
The performance dedicated to the Winter Universiade 2019 volunteers became one of the highlights of the event, as the anthem in their honour was performed on stage paying tribute to the huge contribution that the volunteers made to the Universiade. To operate the Winter Universiade 2019, five thousand assistants volunteered from the Krasnoyarsk Territory, other regions of Russia and such foreign countries as the USA, Ghana, Italy, Madagascar, Sri Lanka and many others.
Prime Minister Medvedev addressed the participants and said, “We did everything to ensure our guests and all competitors felt the warmth and hospitality of Russia. Eleven unbelievable days passed full of powerful emotions. I would like to sincerely congratulate all the champions of the Winter Universiade 2019. The greatest victory is our common one: you proved one more time that the most important things in sport are generosity, courage, team spirit and commitment to the principles of fair play!”
FISU President Oleg Matytsin thanked the people of Krasnoyarsk and said, “the days that we spent here, in the heart of Siberia, will always remain in our memory”
The culmination of the ceremony was a farewell to the Flame of the 29th Winter Universiade Krasnoyarsk 2019. A fiery flower symbolising the Cauldron of the Games appeared in the centre of the arena. Then its petals bloomed, embodying Trollius, the ‘Siberian rose’, before Zlata Demyanova, a six-year-old Universiade Ambassador, and U-Laika, the mascot of the Winter Universiade 2019, were honoured to extinguish the fire.
Matytsin and Sergey Eryomin, Mayor of Krasnoyarsk, then handed over the FISU flag to Beat Züsli, Mayor of the Swiss city of Lucerne that will host the next Winter Universiade in 2021.