Russian figure skating stars sparkle in Mongolia

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                                                                                                           The State Committee for Physical Education and Sport, the Ministry of Sports of the Russian Federation, the Russian Figure Skating Federation, and the Steppe Arena LLC organized a figure skating show of the best Russian figure skaters at Steppe Arena, Ulaanbaatar on May 6 and 7, 2023. I thought this show might be held soon, so that in January when Japanese figure skaters such as Hongo Rika, Hiroki Honda, and Tsunehito Karakawa came to perform in Mongolia, I watched the Japanese figure skaters eagerly waiting for the arrival of the world-star Russian figure skaters. I saw Russian stars on May 6 and as a journalist, I was proud to report from this wonderful ice show. 

Having waited since January, I went to the Steppe Arena at 3:00 p.m. which was two hours before the beginning of the ice show. The tickets for the ice show were sold between 30,000 and 150,000 MNT depending on the seat, and all the tickets for the two days were sold out within the first 72 hours after the ticket sales started on April 11. When I arrived, some other people had already arrived and were waiting by the entrance. Thirty minutes later, the doors opened and the spectators entered. While waiting for the ice show, I walked inside the Steppe Arena with a great sense of wonder. There were eight food booths and one food corner inside the arena, selling fast food such as sandwiches, hotdogs, burgers, coffee, tea, water, and sodas.

There was a booth with the banner “Eeltei Yertunts” or “Propitious Planet” NGO, and mothers of disabled children who make stuffed toys and organize activities and donations for disabled people. The stuffed toys thrown to the ice field cost 20,000 to 35,000 MNT, and coming with stuffed toys from outside is prohibited. Throughout much of the 1990s, flowers were the signature conclusion of figure skating, according to the 1992 Olympic Champion Kristi Yamaguchi. That pairing came to an end in 2001 when US Figure Skating banned flowers, citing debris and safety concerns (related to the September 11 attacks and subsequent anthrax scares). While there is no universal ban on flowers, many other organizations have adopted the same position. Fans have adjusted to the decision, viewing stuffed animals as a unique opportunity to provide personalized gifts to some of their favorite athletes. However, Astra flower shop was selling flower bouquets between 40,000 to 100,000 MNT.

The show started at 5:15 p.m. At the beginning of the figure skating show, 17 skaters, including 16 Russian skaters and one Mongolian skater, came out and performed their opening performance together. When figure skaters were skating, the audience did not even blink an eye, and figure skaters were performing single and duo performances. After that, the first figure skater, Mongolian junior athlete O.Misheel, came to the ice rink. She performed the song “Love Story” with a light rhythm. Her best techniques were Salchow and Sit Spin. I thought that pretty girl will, one day, become a good figure skater. Spectators cheered loudly for the only Mongolian athlete participating in the show.

Behind her, 15-year-old Adeliia Petrosian danced like a swan on ice to Barbara Pravi's French song “Voila”. It was like watching a future Olympic champion as she performed two triple Axel turns and brought her song to life. After that, Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii appeared in a fairy-tale version of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake for a duet performance. For the first time watching such a pair of figure skates, the audience was in tears. It was truly amazing and left the audience speechless. After Dmitri Aliev, Petr Gumennik, Mark Kondratiuk, Sofia Akateva, Evgenia Tarasova and her partner Vladimir Morozov performed. The first part of the show ended.

One of the best parts of the show, which gave the audience an unforgettable memory, was the performance of Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov on the song “Life” by Mongolian singer Sarantuya. The audience never imagined that they could get such a precious feeling of love and wanting to fly in Mongolian songs. Throw jumps, and lifts, the relationship between them, the way they feel about each other, and their facial expressions were outstanding and beautiful.

The intermission of the ice show was 20 minutes, and the audience had long queues in the toilets and food booths. There were two restrooms on the right and left side of the arena hall. During the ice show, eight cleaning staff were working to ensure the cleanliness of the audience seats, the arena, and the restrooms. Volunteers directed spectators to seats, restrooms, and food booths. While watching these, I saw 5-year-old Ts.Amina came to watch the ice show with her father. She had been skating for a year and was excited to see Kamila. His father N.Tsengelbayar said, "I have two children, 12- and five-year-old. I try to get my children to play sports from an early age. When my children grow up, they do not have to become great athletes, but they will be able to have hobbies and spend their free time in the right way. My youngest daughter loves to skate. Having such a beautiful ice palace is a big step for the development of ice sports in Mongolia.”

                                                                         The second part of the ice show began, and the figure skaters performed their performances which they were performing during the World Championship and the Olympics. Another memorable performance was Mark Kondratiuk’s performance with a Mongolian deel and hat on a German Dschinghis Khan song. We are grateful for such a performance out of respect for the people of Mongolia. 17-year-old Kamila Valieva, the star of this show, performed as “Wednesday” movie’s main character in her last performance on Lady Gaga’s Bloody Mary song. Mongolians supported the young star the loudest, it was like a tribute to the Olympic champion. She fell while performing the first part of the ice show, but the audience cheered her up. Because her performances can touch people’s hearts, everyone interested in figure skating in Mongolia loves her. In this way, the ice show that lasted for 3 hours ended. 

                                                                                                                                        We all saw that Russian figure skaters are really on another level. They usually skated on Russian songs. We saw how much effort, time, and work went into their performances. The Russian dominance in figure skating is paramount and unmatched. No country comes close to the athletes of Russia in any world championships and global tournaments. Russian skaters are the best and have swayed the figure skating world with their distinctive style of play and performance. The fusion of their technical abilities with artistic innovations in their performances has stunned and mesmerized the world. Decades have passed but the supremacy of the athletes in this region has not gone down or diminished. Russian figure skaters have raised the bar and every time they appear in a prominent tournament, they look better than before. But what makes them so exceptional and a potent force in the figure skating world? Russia develops the best skaters because the country has adopted skating as its heritage. They have the best talent identification and pioneering training, and coach kids at a very young age when the body is so agile. Their figure skaters can perform some difficult jumps with grace.

After the ice show, there was a long line of spectators who wanted to take pictures with the athletes and get autographs with Russian skaters. Mongolian people feel and know the beauty of sports, especially figure skating. For two days, over 5.000 people watched that ice show at the Steppe Arena. More than 200 people participated in the organization of this show, including more than 40 Russian athletes and coaches, as well as working in the back office of live TV. Also, congratulations to J.Sanchir, who worked as the director of the show program, and all the back office workers of Steppe Arena, and organizers. You guys have delighted the Mongolian people and inspired the children and young people who are interested in figure skating.

While watching such a beautiful performance, I had a secret wish that Mongolian figure skating would reach such a level like Russians and want to support our country’s athletes to participate in international competitions. Russia’s world stars “shot” in Mongolia. I hope Mongolian stars will “shoot” in the world soon.

Dashmaa D

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