World level

[b]Belarusian sports are experiencing a construction boom. Top facilities are sprouting like mushrooms after October rain. Every expert invited to an opening begins by using the words ‘unique’ or ‘unbelievable’. Already, the man-made downhill ski resorts created in flat Belarus are busy. Meanwhile, the European Championship 2009 at Minsk’s newly-opened cycle track brought unanimous approval from participants. They said it was the best competition of its size of the last decade. Yet, the most interesting lies ahead[/b]The opening of a grand site in Belarus just before New Year’s Eve is already a tradition. This time, the super-modern Minsk-Arena complex is opening. The latest calling card of Belarusian sports is unique, indeed. It occupies most of the grounds of the Belarusian Physical Culture University, with three huge buildings interconnected and the Olympic Glory Avenue leading to the main entrance. A year ago, its cycle track was the first to open, boasting a world class track, seating for 3,000 and a multi-functional ground at its centre. However, this was only the beginning. At the end of the year, the red ribbon was cut on its skating complex (the fastest in the world according to leading ice experts, who helped in its construction) and 15,000 seat hockey amphitheatre. In 2010, the latter will become the home ground for Dynamo (which is playing in the Continental Hockey League). It will also welcome Children’s Eurovision. Of course, the World Hockey Championship is also due to take place there in 2014.
Belarusian sports are experiencing a construction boom. Top facilities are sprouting like mushrooms after October rain. Every expert invited to an opening begins by using the words ‘unique’ or ‘unbelievable’. Already, the man-made downhill ski resorts created in flat Belarus are busy. Meanwhile, the European Championship 2009 at Minsk’s newly-opened cycle track brought unanimous approval from participants. They said it was the best competition of its size of the last decade. Yet, the most interesting lies ahead

The opening of a grand site in Belarus just before New Year’s Eve is already a tradition. This time, the super-modern Minsk-Arena complex is opening. The latest calling card of Belarusian sports is unique, indeed. It occupies most of the grounds of the Belarusian Physical Culture University, with three huge buildings interconnected and the Olympic Glory Avenue leading to the main entrance. A year ago, its cycle track was the first to open, boasting a world class track, seating for 3,000 and a multi-functional ground at its centre. However, this was only the beginning. At the end of the year, the red ribbon was cut on its skating complex (the fastest in the world according to leading ice experts, who helped in its construction) and 15,000 seat hockey amphitheatre. In 2010, the latter will become the home ground for Dynamo (which is playing in the Continental Hockey League). It will also welcome Children’s Eurovision. Of course, the World Hockey Championship is also due to take place there in 2014.
A second super-complex for the world’s top ice-hockey players is being constructed at the other end of Minsk — in the Chizhovka district. Half the size, the Chizhovka-Arena won’t have a cycle track but will be no less impressive. Famous hockey coach Mikhail Zakharov has helped with the design, having experience of the best sports ground of Russia — Yaroslavl-Arena and the Novogorsk site. Under the roof of the futuristic complex, two rinks will be united: one with 8,000 seats for matches and the other for training, seating just 500. They will be united by a bridge accommodating the commercial part of the sports complex, with a total area of 10,000 square metres. It also has 12 changing rooms and a sophisticated energy saving system, but its unique roof and faзade are its most amazing features, using nanotechnology. “In fact, the roof is absolutely fire-proof and is stronger than the profiled sheeting,” explains Belpromproekt Director Yuri Sharonov. “We’re using tape usually reserved for spacecraft. We are yet to decide whether the roof will be transparent and it may have inner lighting. Snow cover will be solved by internal heating.” Teflon was first used on a faзade at the Alliance-Arena in Munich and was last implemented at the Olympic swimming pool in Beijing — one of the main attractions of the recent Olympics.
Hockey rinks are planned countrywide for towns of more than 100,000 people, as approved back in 2007. Some have already opened their doors — such as the ice palace in Baranovichi. In addition to the ice arena, it includes a court, which is to host the country’s volleyball championship winner Atlant-BarGU. Soon, the first sportsmen and spectators will visit the ice palace in Lida. Meanwhile, in 2011, a 3,500 seater arena will open in Orsha. Unique multi-functional complexes are being built in Gorki and Kostyukovichi and, in Molodechno, hockey facilities and a full-sized track-and-field stadium are being united. By 2014, Borisov will also have its own hockey team and, consequently, its own stadium. “We already have several orders from small towns for the construction of modest ice palaces,” notes Mr. Sharonov. “Every region should have 7-8 palaces, seating 140 to 500. In addition, Krichev, Mozyr, Rechitsa, Chausy, Shklov and Polotsk are to gain rinks.”
Ice hockey players are not the only ones to receive this honour. Minsk has long needed a place to accommodate matches of the highest level. Belarus has eight Olympic handball and four basketball champions; however, the country’s clubs and teams have often held their international matches beyond the capital. Now, the situation will change. In 2010, construction of the Playing Sports Palace will begin at SKA’s former track-and-field sports complex. This unusual facility once hosted European Cup matches featuring Minsk’s legendary SKA handball team. The new stadium will unite three courts. The largest will seat 3,500 — designed for handball, but adaptable for basketball and volleyball. A similar training court will be able to seat 500. No one doubts that they will always be crowded!
Another traditional Belarusian sport is freestyle skiing. Belarus’ highest peak is the 345m tall Dzerzhinskaya Mountain yet it has nurtured Olympic champions in ski acrobatics. They continue surprising us. A freestyle summer training centre is soon to be built near the Olympyski water sports centre, becoming a unique site worldwide. Its transparent 90m diameter dome will include a water arena for jumps and three freestyle summer jumps. Close by, there will be two aqua-parks and a spa, cafes, restaurants and gambling machines. “It will be the perfect place for a family day out,” its architects promise.
Mountain skiers and snowboarders have already celebrated, feeling at home on the slopes of Silichi and Logoisk. Even the slope in Minsk’s Kurasovshchina district has been well-known to extreme-amateurs for several years. It has been updated three times to help it move with the times and its slope has been lengthened by almost a third. The mountain itself has grown and has a fully-fledged start ground at the top. Nearby, there is now a beginners’ track, a channel for tubing and a huge jumping slope. “Snowboarding is becoming more popular in our country,” explains the Executive Director of the Belarusian Ski Mountaineering and Snowboarding Federation, Grigory Lyadov. “Moreover, in distinction from ski mountaineering, our traditionally flat country has the chance to reach the largest international competitions in this sport.”
These sports sites will fundamentally alter the ‘face’ of Minsk and the whole of Belarus. By 2012, Minsk alone will have over 45 new sports complexes — including centres for track-and-field athletics, sports gymnastics and freestyle wrestling. The number of football fields with artificial pitches should double. Tennis courts are to be constructed in five districts of the capital. Besides, around 75 sports sites are to be reconstructed or renovated. The National Olympic Committee is also awaiting its new home. The transparent dome will unite the federations of more than 100 sports currently developing in Belarus, a conference-hall (meeting international standards), a cafй, a restaurant, underground parking and, naturally, a Museum of Olympic Glory. It will have its first international debut in its opening year, hosting the European Olympic Committees General Assembly.

By Dmitry Komashko
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