Biathlon Bonanza

The Biathlon Championship is Khanty-Mansiysk’s claim to fame.  It’s a cheerful, international event for everyone.  Despite its inherent design as a competition between nations, the mood at the tracks was positive and welcoming for all.  Also, this is where English students proudly get the chance to test out their skills volunteering with and translating for the various international teams. Anders Besseberg, the president of IBU, International Biathlon Union, declared Khanty-Mansiysk’s tracks as some of the best in the world.

The city pulled out all the stops for the opening ceremony.  In line with over-stimulation of the senses, the ceremony included ice skaters, countless dancers, singers, a marching band, eight giant moveable Khanty teepee-like structures, acrobats, contortionists, and small children dressed like fairies.  There were flashing (read: epileptic) lights, dramatic music and fancy videos.  And there was a gigantic model of a deer head at the center of it all, with glowing eyes to boot.

I bet even Carmen Sandiego could be found somewhere on this bus...

If you are having trouble grasping the over-the-top amount of things that were going on in this performance, please imagine a mixture of no less than all of the following themes: the James Bond techno-y soundtrack, Lord of the Rings epic nature panoramas, Star Wars light sabers, Disney on Ice, N’Sync dance moves, Hannah Montana preteen style glitz, Cirque De Soleil acrobatics, Donnie Darko creepy eyes, Twin Peaks creepy owls, and the “Destination Calabria” sexy dance song’s music video.  Skeptical?  Here are some screen shots taken from the video of the ceremony (you can watch the entire hour of glory here: to prove my point.

In case you can’t tell, for all of the following images, the last one in the set is the one that’s not from the Opening Ceremonies.



Ok ok, maybe not twins, but at least step brothers(sisters?).  …They have their mother’s eyes?





Click the photo on the right to head on over to the absurdly trashy music video.  Luckily, the opening ceremony wasn’t quite so risque!


Hard to see in the thumbnail version, but if you enlarge it, you’ll see classic Twin Peaks Creepy Owl

Here’s a clip that I filmed.

Here are some more assorted shots.  By the way, all these are screen captures from the internet broadcast of the show; I was standing so far away that all my pictures turned out like blurry pixel porridge.


All of this was one ceremony, all packed into one hour and on one stage.  It was the biggest entertainment burger my eyes have ever feasted on.

Randianne came to visit that weekend, and we went to the Men’s “Pursuit” race on Saturday.  We barely saw any of the races – the stands we were in didn’t really have a good view of the action.  But, we made our own action and shouted and whistled and hooped and hollered.  The whole event was lots of fun – we had brought face paint with us and people kept coming up to us and asking us to paint their faces.  Some older gentleman on the marshrutka there got a big kick out of us foreigners (we had David, a fellow from the Czech Republic, with us as well), and took just about a zillion pictures with us.  Svensen from Norway placed third and the US placed ninth.  The conclusion was that the atmosphere was great, but to actually see the games, hear the broadcast, and pay attention to the scores, it’s just better and easier to watch it on TV!


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