Snowboarding event in Moscow: in summer?
Time - the very middle of summer. Place - the SNEJ.COM winter sports complex hosting the Russian Snowboarding Cup. Purpose - the state's best athletes fine-tuning their displays for the upcoming Winter Olympics.
From the summer heat into a full-scale winter competition – making this possible is one of the most advanced indoor facilities in Europe, SNEJ.COM.
And of course with 30 degrees of heat outdoors, natural snow is very much at a premium for the world class athletes.
“Of course, indoor and outdoor snowboarding differ a lot. And that's not only because of the artificial snow here. It feels a bit icy, so the board behaves in a different way. To me it's even harder to compete indoors,” 2007 World Champion Ekaterina Tudegesheva says before adding: “Plus, I'm always cold in indoor facilities like this.”
But unlike Ekaterina who's already booked her spot on the Russian Olympic team, others still have to fight to make their winter dream come true.
Their chance is the first leg of the Russian Cup. While the women's team-selection is all but known, the male squad is still far from being fixed.
“We're already sure of the four ladies, plus a couple of substitutes to represent the country in Vancouver. But as for the men, this contest's results will help us a lot in deciding the Olympic squad,” explains Team Russia Head Coach, Denis Tikhomirov.
”We are both checking out our top guys and expecting some young talents to rise. I wouldn't say the course is very tough, but it has enough in common with the Olympic one,” he says.
The qualification round was followed by three play-off stages – the best of three heats each – leading to the final.
In the men's contest, the decider saw Aleksandr Belkin and Stanislav Detkov on the lines.
Despite losing the first heat, Belkin was keen to prove he deserves a ticket to his second winter games, and he got it.
“Of course, I keep Vancouver very much in my mind. Though the most crucial task now is to perform well in the World Cup legs. Just to gain strength and confidence for the Olympics,” he says.
As for the fastest lady of the day, that mantle went to one of the national first teamers, Katya Ilyukhina, who had been regarded as favorite by the team coach.
So while sunny July is splitting the trees outside, the future is looking white and bright inside.