Archive

No. 1, 2006

Aleksandr Seleznev

ON THE STARTING LINES AT THE WINTER OLYMPICS


LUKOIL contributes to the success of the Russian winter sports team at the XX Winter Olympics

The XX Winter Olympic Games were held in the Italian city of Turin from February 10 through 26. Russian athletes took part in all of the Winter Olympics main programs, once again demonstrating their spirit, strength of will, and desire to win.

A Short History

The Winter Olympics officially began 82 years ago on January 25, 1924, when Baron Pierre de Coubertin organized the first Winter Olympiad under the banner of One Week of Winter Sport, Dedicated to the Upcoming VIII Olympic Games in Paris. In reality, however, the speed skating championships held as early as 1893 may be considered the first step toward the birth of the Winter Olympics. After that the first world figure skating championships were held in 1896. In 1908, figure skating was included in the program of the IV Olympic Games, held in London. The figure skating competitions were held simultaneously with those for the summer sports. The Olympic champion for that plainly nonsummer sport was Nikolai Panin-Kolomenkin, a Russian. Winter sports appeared in the program of the Summer Olympics for a second time in 1920: in addition to the figure skating there were also three types of other competitions, with from 6 to 16 athletes participating in each, as well as a representative Canadian ice hockey tournament featuring seven teams. Finally, at the 1922 Paris meeting of the International Olympic Council, it was decided that similar competitions would be held under the banner of An International Sporting Week on the Occasion of the VIII Olympiad.

The competitions took place in Chamonix, France, from January 25 through February 4, 1924. However, all of the ceremonies considered an integral part of the Olympic Games were held at the beginning of the event: the Olympic Flame was lit, and the contestants swore the Olympic Oath.

Considering the number of countries and athletes participating in the games (293 athletes from 16 European countries and America took part) and the fierceness of the battles in most of the competitions the International Sporting Week on the Occasion of the VIII Olympiad exceeded the most daring expectations. This gave the IOC grounds for deciding, at its Prague Olympic Congress in 1925, to hold regular Winter Olympic Games, and the competitions held in Chamonix in 1924 were retroactively designated the I Winter Olympic Games. The Winter Games would henceforth become an inseparable part of Olympic sports, and be held regularly the same years as the Summer Olympiads.

Soviet athletes first took part in the Winter Olympics in 1956, and immediately won seven gold, three silver, and six bronze medals. Racking up 103 points, they confidently assumed first place in the unofficial team scores. The athletes of the USSR Olympic Team would repeat this triumph at the subsequent VII and VIII Winter Olympics in Austria and the United States, respectively. Right down to the XVI Winter Games (held in Albertville, France), the Soviet team never dropped below second place in the overall team scores.

At the 1991 session of the IOC, it was decided to stagger the timing of the Summer and Winter Olympiads, which would be held alternately at intervals of two years beginning in 1994.

The Turin Test

The XX Winter Olympic Games gave a new powerful impetus to the development of winter sports in Russia. As early as March 26, 2003, a special order on training for the Turin competitions was issued by Russian President Vladimir Putin. An organizational committee headed by RF Government Deputy Chairman Aleksandr Zhukov was set up. In addition, the Winter Sports Association of Presidents Council, headed by Vladimir Kozhin, contributed hugely to the training of the Russian Olympic team.

LUKOIL, which has a long tradition of supporting the Olympic movement, made its own substantial contribution to the training of Russia's athletes. Its first agreement with the Olympic Committee was signed as early as 2001, when the company became an official partner of Russia's Olympic Committee.

In 2005, LUKOIL became one of the founders of the Fund for the Support of Russia's Olympic Athletes. On December 15, 2005, agreements on sponsoring Russian professional sports teams and organizations were signed at LUKOIL's Moscow headquarters. A sponsorship agreement was signed with the Russian Speed Skiing Federation, guaranteeing financial support for training its men's and women's teams for the Olympic Games in Turin. In addition, a letter of intent was signed by LUKOIL and RTR Sport, Russian television's main sports channel, for the financial support of TV broadcasts from the Turin Winter Olympics.

To mark the occasion, LUKOIL President Vagit Alekperov stressed, We hope that the Company's financial support will help our athletes achieve the best possible results in both Russian and world competitions, and will promote the development of children's sport in our country.

Over 16 days, competitions took place in 15 different kinds of winter sport (the biathlon, bobsledding, the skiing double event, curling, freestyle, hockey, figure skating, speed skating, ski jumping, downhill skiing, speed skiing, short trekking, skeletoning, luging, tobogganing, and snowboarding) in the picturesque settings of seven Olympic venues: Bardonecchia, Pinerolo, Pragelato, Cesana, Sauge d'Only, Sestriere, and Torin. Eighty-four sets of medals were awarded. More than 10,000 representatives of the mass media from countries around the world covered the events at the Turin Winter Olympics, reporting on the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.

Of the 2,500 athletes present, the Russian Olympic Team once again performed admirably, demonstrating its outstanding courage, will to win, and high mastery of sports. Again and again, the Russian national anthem was heard, and the red, white, and blue national tricolor was raised to honor the champions of the XX Winter Olympics. Olympic champion Vladimir Vasin, First Vice-President of Russia's Olympic Committee, proved a worthy head of the Russian sports delegation to Turin.

The XX Winter Olympic Games have already become part of history; before us lie new starting lines where new sporting heights will be reached repeatedly in the name of peace and athletic competition.

Russia and the USSR in the Winter Olympics

Russia's debut in the Winter Olympics with a team of 5 athletes took place in 1908 in London, Great Britain and was a success. The Russian sportsmen took 3 medals. The figure skater Nikolay Panin-Kolomenkin became the first Olympic Champion of Russia.

But the first real success was in 1956 in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy, when the USSR sportsmen took the first place in medal count 7 golds, 3 silvers and 6 bronzes. The biggest surprise was its 5-0 record in hockey and the final victory over the U.S. hockey team.

In 1960 in Squaw Valley, the USA, the Soviet sportsmen won the team competition resulting in 7 gold medal, including 3 in women's speed skating, which was on the Olympic program for the first time.

In 1964 in Innsbruck, Austria, the Soviet team won 23 medals (10 gold, 8 silver and 5 bronze) and won the first place again in medal count. Speed skater Lidia Skoblikova won 4 gold medals, setting 3 Olympic records.

In 1968 in Grenoble, France, the USSR sportsmen resulted in 13 medals (5 golds). The true sensation was the victorious performance of the ski jumper Vladimir Belousov, who became Soviet Union's first ever gold medalist in this discipline. The Soviet hockey team, figure skaters, and biathlonists were undoubtfully the best in the tournament.

In 1972 in Sapporo, Japan, again the Soviet sportsmen won the first place in medal count resulting in 8 golds, 5 silvers and 3 bronzes in skiing, biathlon, figure skating, skating and hockey. The skier Vyacheslav Vedenin became the hero of the Soviet team by winning 2 gold and 1 bronze medals. Galina Kulakova of the USSR received 3 golds winning all three cross-country skiing events for women.

In 1976 in Innsbruck, Austria, the Soviet Union achieved the first place in team competition, taking 16 gold medals. The Soviet cross-country skier Galina Kulakova won 3 golds agains. The Soviet hockey team won its fourth straight Olympic title.

In 1980 in Lake Placid, the USA, the Soviet Union won 22 medals, including 10 were gold, placing its team in first position. The sensation of the games was the performance of the Soviet skier Nikolay Zimyatov who won 3 golds. Irina Rodnina set a record in figure skating, becoming the Olympic Champion for the third time.

In 1984 in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia, the Soviet sportsmen won 25 medals, including 6 golds. The USSR hockey team, in a breathtaking struggle, reclaimed its title as the Olympic Champion.

In 1988 in Calgary, Canada, the USSR gained confident victory with 11 gold medals. For the first time ever the USSR's gold in bobsleigh was won by Yanis Kipurs and Vladmir Kozlov

In 1992 in Albertville, France, the ex-USSR athletes competed as a unified team of the Commonwealth of Independent States and won 9 gold, 6 silver and 8 bronze medals. The heroine of the Albertville games was the Russian skier Lyubov Yegorova who won 3 gold medals.

In 1994 in Lillehammer, Norway, the Russian team won 23 medals including 11 golds, 8 silvers and 4 bronzes to top the medal table. The Russian skier Lyubov Yegorova again like in Albertville won 3 gold medals. The Russian pair of Yekaterina Gordeyeva and Sergey Grinkov won for the second time the pair skating competition.

In 1998 in Nagano, Japan, Russia took the third place in the medal count after Germany and Norway with 18 medals including 9 golds,6 silvers and 3 bronzes. Larissa Lazutina of Russia became a triple gold medalists, in the 5- and 10-kilometer cross-country races. Russian figure skaters won 3 gold and 2 silver medals.

A true discovery was Yulia Chepalova, a future leader of the national women skiing team.

In 2002 in Salt Lake City, the Russian sportsmen took 16 medals including 6 golds, 6 silvers and 4 bronze. The victories of Russian figure skaters and cross-country skiers proved their mastery again.




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Oil of Russia, No. 1, 2006
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