Ice Hockey in our soul

<img class="imgl" alt="" src="http://www.belarus-magazine.by/belen/data/upimages/2009/0001-009-419.jpg">[b]Everyone, from politicians and sports fans to ordinary citizens, is keenly anticipating the launch of the World Ice Hockey Championship, hosted by Minsk. Match tickets are long sold out, while hotels are making the finishing touches in preparation for welcoming their guests. The National Airport has been revamped, to offer the best levels of hospitality, and our border guards and customs officers have been rehearsing charming smiles before the mirror! They are keen to break the stereotype of being too stern while asking their questions of those arriving. Of course, from April 25th to May 31st, those with tickets to matches will have no need for visas to gain entry into Belarus.[/b]
Everyone, from politicians and sports fans to ordinary citizens, is keenly anticipating the launch of the World Ice Hockey Championship, hosted by Minsk. Match tickets are long sold out, while hotels are making the finishing touches in preparation for welcoming their guests. The National Airport has been revamped, to offer the best levels of hospitality, and our border guards and customs officers have been rehearsing charming smiles before the mirror! They are keen to break the stereotype of being too stern while asking their questions of those arriving. Of course, from April 25th to May 31st, those with tickets to matches will have no need for visas to gain entry into Belarus.
Almost everything is ready in our capital, with the ice rinks in top condition, ready for some spectacular play. The President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, guarantees that the forthcoming championship will be the most successful in ice hockey history. Meeting the President of the International Ice Hockey Federation, Renй Fasel, who is a member of the IIHF Executive Committee, he underlined that it ‘will be the best championship ever’. “A championship is a success when all tickets are sold and I can assure you that there won’t be a single vacant seat. I’m sure that you’ll be proud of this world championship,” he asserted.
It’s a true honour to be chosen to host any world championship: only an Olympiad is ranked higher. Naturally, there are many requirements to be fulfilled, including engineering facilities. Minsk’s ice must be maintained in the best condition throughout the event. Read more about the 2014 IIHF World Championship ice rinks in Under Arena Roofs.
You can learn more about the roots of modern Belarusian hockey in Formula for Great Pucks. In just 15 years, we’ve progressed incredibly, from four ice rinks to almost 20. Stadiums are under construction in large cities and smaller towns, bringing the sport to the wider population. The national team of Belarus is constantly included among the top 15 worldwide, and came fourth at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games — ahead of known global leaders. It’s hoped that our Belarusian hockey players will confirm their high status, bringing delight to their multitude of fans.
Every Belarusian knows that May brings the Ice Hockey World Championship: the most prestigious sports event to ever be hosted by our country. Long anticipated, advertising for the tournament is all over the capital. However, the honour also brings challenges, to ensure that fans enjoy a smooth experience, in comfort and safety. If they can leave with a good impression of Belarusian hospitality, and perhaps wider knowledge of our culture, the large team of organisers will know their job is done! Of course, volunteers will be playing an important role, as you can read in Have You Signed Up To Volunteers.
Our magazine includes other articles on this grand sporting event. Hockey at the Heart of Everything! describes cultural opportunities open to visitors during the World Championship, with Viktar Korbut suggesting how best to promenade the capital and find a place to relax between matches. Minsk has a rich cultural heritage, as well as a contemporary artistic scene, as guests and participants of the 2014 IIHF Word Championship will soon discover.

By Viktor Kharkov
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