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Krasnoyarsk home of one of the big teams – Yenisej

If there’s one sport at the 2019 Winter Universiade that is truly at home in Krasnoyarsk, it’s Bandy. Also known as ‘Russian hockey’ this sport has been included in the Winter Universiade competition programme for the first time in history because of a strong Bandy culture in Russia and specifically, in Krasnoyarsk.

Sergei Lomanov (above), ten-time World champion in Bandy hails from Krasnoyarsk and is thrilled that his hometown will host the event to packed stands.

-Being an Ambassador of the Winter Universiade 2019 that takes place in my hometown is a great honour for me, he says. Bandy is one of the most spectacular winter sports, and the Universiade is an exciting large-scale event. These two are meant for each other!

If ticket sales are anything to go by, the inaugural edition of Bandy at the Winter Universiade is surely going to be a spectacular success. The Yenisei Ice Stadium, with a 5,000-seat capacity is almost sold out for Bandy competitions. The stands will be packed not only by locals supporting the Russian team, but also with spectators from Sweden, Finland and Kazakhstan.

Six teams including heavyweights Russia, Sweden, Finland and Norway will participate in the men’s tournament while the women’s event will see a star-studded line up from Sweden. The Swedish World Champion team (2018) comprising of Linnea Larsson, Ida Freeman, Matilda Plan and MVP Matilda Svenler has to be considered the favourite in the women’s draw.

It might be difficult to bet against the Russians in the men’s event though, despite tough competition from Sweden, Finland and Norway. In the recently concluded test event – the Bandy U-19 World Championship – Russia and Sweden finished in first and second place, with the home team edging out the Swedes 2:1 in a hard-fought final match.

Although the members of that junior team are not part of the squad in Krasnoyarsk, Vladimir Kitkov, head coach of the Russian junior team believes the home team will be dominant. He also says the venue is unlike any other. “It is a Bandy paradise. I have seen many indoor stadiums in Sweden, but this stadium in Krasnoyarsk stands out. The Yenisei Ice Stadium is one of the world’s best arenas for ‘Russian hockey’.”

The renovated venue is indeed an impressive sight, with the large ice sheet enclosed from Siberian weather through a freestanding wooden structure.