Smiled upon by Vozhyk
Belarusian Vitaly Ortyukh: the designer of last year’s mascot for the 2014 Ice Hockey World Championship and the mascot for the 2015 World Futsal Championship
Vitaly, who designed the mascots for two world championships (perhaps deserving of the Guinness Book of Records) is talented in everything.
What induced you to design the World Championship mascot?
Since my time at the institute, I’ve enjoyed entering competitions so, as soon as I heard about the contest to design the Ice Hockey World Championship mascot, I decided to take part. I was inspired by my disappointment with the Buslik (stork) mascot used at the Minsk Youth World Ice Hockey Championship, feeling that I could do better. It was this that made me try my hand, as I didn’t want to see a mascot chosen that disappointed me. Once I began thinking, I realised that I needed to choose one of our two national symbols: the stork or auroch. I felt disposed towards the second, although I was initially worried as to how to draw an auroch on skates, playing ice hockey. However, on my third day of sketching, I began to make progress with Volat.
Has your life changed since designing the Ice Hockey World Championship mascot?
It has, as I now have more orders on the sports theme. I’ve developed an emblem and uniform for the ice-hockey team, and was asked to design medals for the Freestyle World Cup stage, held in Raubichi. My first certificate of honour hangs on the wall, signed by Mikhail Myasnikovich, the then Prime Minister, in gratitude for my help.
What inspired you to create Vozhyk (the hedgehog in Belarusian): the World Futsal Championship mascot?
Soon after I was asked to create the mascot, Sergey Safonov, the Deputy Chairman of the Belarusian Futsal Federation and head coach of the national team, mentioned that he’d prefer me to use a beaver or a lynx. I wasn’t keen, feeling that I couldn’t connect them with football. I chose the hedgehog for its ability to roll itself into a ball. Plus, the championship starts in April, which is when hedgehogs emerge from hibernation. People are fond of hedgehogs of course. Instead of showing it rolling apples, mine rolls balls. When I first brought my sketch to the federation, they seemed bewildered but they soon came round to my arguments. They did ask me to remove the footballs from hedgehog’s needles though. My hedgehog is giving a thumbs-up gesture of encouragement. In Belarusian, he’s called Vozhyk which is rather similar to Volat.
Are you a citizen of Minsk?
Yes, I was born and I live in Minsk, having grown up near the well-known Minsk Traktor Stadium. It has my favourite forest park, in which I climbed as a child. I knew every tree. My father’s family comes from the village of Artyukhi, in the Stolbtsy District of the Minsk Region. My great-grandfather was a forester to the Radziwill family, working alongside Yakub Kolas’ father. My grandmother went on to live in his forester’s hut and that’s where I often spent my holidays.
Do you enjoy sport?
Since childhood, and very much so! I like its sense of fair play. Most of all, I love cycling: the bicycle is the most ingenious invention! When the weather is kind, I cycle 10-20km daily, followed by 3km of running. In winter, I ski or snowboard. In reward for designing the Ice Hockey World Championship mascot, I received tickets for our Belarusian matches and for the final round: for me and for my family. I made myself a costume by attaching an auroch’s forelock with horns to my cycling helmet and received a prize from the sponsors of the championship for my efforts.
Our futsal players are the most titled Belarusian national team, being double champions of Europe. Our sportsmen are ready to rival any team worldwide, as our Minsk World Championship confirmed.
By German Moskalenko