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© RIA Novosti. Mikhail Mokrushin

Russian skaters test the ice at the new Iceberg Sports Palace in Sochi

by at 08/10/2012 16:07

Sochi’s Iceberg Sports Palace was put through its paces by Russian figure skaters in the Federation Cup over the weekend.

The Federation Cup lasted for two days, Oct. 6 and 7, and allowed organizers to evaluate the readiness of the systems in the 12,000-seater arena for the Grand Prix Final on Dec. 6 and then the Olympics.

First test

The organizers had to test all the systems at the arena, as well as arranging transfers for athletes and officials and other organizational details.

At first, the organizers even considered holding the event, but not making the performances competitive, but then they changed their mind. This way the work of judges was also tested.

As a result, five or six representatives from all figure skating disciplines took part.

The participants had to evaluate the arena and their recommendations would be taken onboard before the Grand Prix.

Competitors happy with new arena

Overall, the figure skaters decided that the ice on the arena is of good quality.

“The conditions are absolutely great, the changing room are very comfortable, the ice is neither hard nor soft,” skater Artur Gachinskiy told R-Sport. “So all the necessary conditions were created for athletes, coaches and judges, to make them comfortable. I have no problems with it.”

Russian officials feel at home

Officials were also happy with the competition. The head of the Russian Figure Skating Federation, Olympic champion in ice dancing Alexander Gorshkov, said that whatever rough edges remain will be smoothed out by December.

 “There is ice, there is light, there is music. Of course, a lot will be discovered during the competition and will be fixed for the Grand Prix. We have the means to prepare seriously,” he said.

Gorshkov added that it would be good if the ice arena remained in place after the 2014 Olympics.

“I very much hope – and we were promised – that it will be kept,” he said. “It would be sad if this arena, having become a home to us, would not go on to turn into another figure skating center in our country.”

Gorshkov also called the arena “warm and surprisingly cozy. I would say [it is like] home.”

The site is almost ready

While the construction company insists that the arena is fully ready, and all that remains is to clean it, international officials see more things that need to be done.

“[All that is left to do is] to hold complex tests for all systems at once,” said the vice-president of construction company Obyedineniye Ingeokom, Alexei Vasilzhenko. “Construction works are completely finished, all that remains is to start it up.”

A senior official from the International Skating Union (ISU) did not agree that the arena was finished, however.

“The building is not yet ready, a lot is to be done,” ISU’s head of sports directorate Peter Krick told R-Sport. “And it must be done by December, when there will be the Grand Prix final. I can note that since my last visit to Sochi in May, a lot of work has been done.”

Krick said that higher floors had to be finished and the territory outside the arena must be fixed, but noted that given that so much work was done since May, builders were familiar with high speed of construction.

The winners

As for the competition, only the female skating winner came as a surprise. A Sochi native Nicole Gosviyani, 16, beat more experienced contestants for the Gold medal.

Former European Champions Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov won gold in pairs, Yekaterina Pushkash and Jonathan Guerreiro beat their closest opponents in ice dancing by only 0.14 points to win gold. Konstantin Menshov won gold in male skating.

Read other articles of the print issue "The Moscow News #68"
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