Youngest victim: Hockey prodigy's last flight

Ice Hockey. 2011 World U20 Championship. Finals. Canada vs. Russia 3-5. Russian defenceman Yury Urychev celebrating the victory in a final game of the 2011 World U20 Championship (RIA Novosti / Elena Rusko)
The youngest player of the Lokomotiv ice-hockey squad, Yury Urychev, could not miss the opening show of the season. Even an injury and disqualification could not keep him at home. But his fate was to play another game with him.

­Yury, who turned 19 last April, took up ice-hockey in 1998. He was brought up in the Lokomotiv sport school. In 2008, this young star was selected for the youth national team.

In 2010 he was chosen for the main Lokomotiv team and would have played there for the second season but for the tragic jet crash on Wednesday.

Mom, they picked me in the squad! I’m in!” Urychev almost shouted when he first appeared in the starting line-up for Lokomotiv. A whole new life was opened up for the then-18-year-old as a rising star and very promising athlete.

However, his parents believed their son needed higher education as well, in order to have another profession in case the competition, which is tough in ice hockey, pushed him out of the professional sport.

Yury was lucky and smart enough to pass the entrance exams to a teaching university, but when the new Canadian coach chose him in the main squad, he could not think about studies anymore.

Nothing, not even an injury and a five-match disqualification, could hold him back.

When you’re injured or disqualified, it’s easier to be with the team, even if you can’t help them on the rink,” said a friend of Yury’s, as quoted by the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper.

Yury Urychev insisted that he should join the team in this opening match against their Minsk rivals and took to the sky with the others. Never to play again.