Special Olympics cross-country skiers from the Moscow delegation. Photographer: Martha Jo Braycich
Special Olympics Russia held a national cross-country skiing and snowshoeing competition 3-5 March 2012 in Murmansk. The competition was part of the selection process for the Special Olympics World Winter Games to be held in PyeongChang, Korea next year. Two hundred and forty athletes from 31 regions participated in a range of races for both low and high ability level athletes.
Murmansk, located 200 km (124 mi) above the Arctic Circle on Kola Bay near the Barents Sea, offered competitors pristine snow conditions on manicured tracks located on the outskirts of the city. With temperatures averaging around -14 C (6.8F), a soft snow flurry on the first day of competition gave way to glorious sunshine on the day of Finals and the Awards Ceremony.
The competition was hosted by the Special Olympics Murmansk subprogram headed by Irina Gorokhova, director of a sports school for youths with disabilities, including those with intellectual disabilities. The competition was supported by the regional Sports Committee. The committee’s Vice Deputy, Svetlana Naumova, attended Opening Ceremonies and hosted a reception for coaches on 3 March. The Committee assisted with promotion of the competition to local media. The Russian Federation’s Ministry of Sport also provided support.
Athletes and coaches alike were highly satisfied with the event, which ran smoothly thanks to the efforts of 75 officials and 50 volunteers from regional universities. When not competing, participants enjoyed excursions around Murmansk, including visiting the world’s first nuclear icebreaker, now docked in the harbor and open as a museum.
The Murmansk subprogram has 635 athletes participating in Special Olympics.