Snow leopard heads trio of Sochi 2014 mascots

Sat Feb 26, 2011 4:59pm EST

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin got his wish when a snow leopard, polar bear and hare were chosen as the official mascots of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics on Saturday.
Putin, who was largely responsible for Sochi’s successful bid to host the 2014 Games, said earlier in the day that a snow leopard would be his “symbolic choice.”

The snow leopard received 28 percent of the votes during a live broadcast on Russia’s main Channel One, followed by the polar bear in second place with 18 percent and the hare in third (16 percent).

“There are three mascots for the Olympic Winter Games, representing the three places on the Olympic podium,” Sochi 2014 chief Dmitry Chernyshenko said in a statement.

“All top-three characters will become the Olympic Winter Games mascots. The mascots are the choice of our whole country and will remain in the history of the Olympic movement.”

Television viewers voted for the mascots from a pool of 10 candidates including a Russian bear and Grandfather Frost (Russian Santa Claus) by sending text messages or by calling the studio.

The characters were shortlisted by the organizers from more than 24,000 ideas that were submitted during a nationwide contest.

Earlier on Saturday, Putin told students during his visit to Sochi: “(The snow) leopard is a strong, powerful, fast and beautiful animal.

“Leopard species had been destroyed around here but now they are being regenerated. If the Olympic project, at least in some way, should help the local environment, then it (picking a leopard) would be symbolic.”

(Reporting by Gennady Fyodorov; Editing by Stephen Wood)

“Irby,” named after the Irbis snow leopard, is the official mascot of the seventh Asian Winter Games.

January 30, 2011

Asian Winter Games Open In Kazakhstan

It may not be the Winter Olympics, but Kazakhstan is hoping that the 2011 Asian Winter Games will promote its status as a world-class sporting venue with future Olympic potential.

The Asian Winter Games, which kick off today, will bring together more than 1,100 athletes from 27 Asian countries for a week of competition in Kazakhstan’s two main cities of Astana and Almaty.

The event is considered highly prestigious among many Asian states, with countries like China, Japan, and South Korea all sending their leading athletes.

Today’s opening ceremony will be held at a newly build 30,000-seat arena in the capital, Astana. Another arena in the city will host competitions in speed skating, while two other skating stadiums will be the venue for figure skating and ice hockey.

Kazakhstan, along with Japan, China, South Korea, and Taiwan, are considered the likeliest medal contenders in hockey.

Almaty, meanwhile, is hosting the bulk of the outdoor events, including cross-country skiing, biathlon, freestyle and alpine skiing, and ski jumping.

Kazakhs Hope For Third

Kazakhstan, exercising its right as host, has introduced two unusual disciplines to this year’s games: ski orienteering, a form of cross-country skiing that tests both endurance and navigational skills; and bandy, a form of ice hockey played on an outsized ice rink the size of a soccer field.

The hosts are among the favorites to win in both sports.

It is unlikely that Kazakhstan will come in ahead of the region’s two sporting giants, China and South Korea. But Kazakh sports authorities say they are hoping to win up to 25 medals and a third-place finish this year.

The previous Asian Winter Games were held in 2007 in Changchun, China. The host country took first place, with Japan and South Korea finishing second and third.

Kazakhstan, a rising power in Central Asia thanks to rich energy reserves, has sought to boost its standing on the international stage, and recently completed its chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, becoming the first member of the Commonwealth of Independent States to hold the year-long post.

It has invested nearly $300 million in sporting infrastructure ahead of the games.

The country’s sports minister, Temirkhan Dosmukhambetov, said his country had a “serious chance of winning the right to host the Winter Olympics in the near future.”

Snow leopard may be Sochi 2014 Olympic mascot

Snow leopard may be Sochi 2014 Olympic mascot

2010-09-18 20:30:00

Sochi (Russia), Sep 18 (IANS/RIA Novosti) The snow leopard leads the competition for the mascot for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, organisers said Saturday.

A nationwide competition to find a mascot for the 2014 Olympics kicked off Sep 1 in Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi.

The mascot ‘should encompass a range of features characteristic of Russia, and at the same time be intelligible to people of every age, profession and nationality’, organisers said earlier.

A special commission will choose the best ideas for the mascot, which then will be improved and developed by professional painters.

Organisers have already received over 3,000 pictures from different regions of Russia.

An online poll, to be held Feb 7, 2011, will determine the Olympic mascot.

–IANS/RIA Novosti