Sochi Olympics declared open

On February 7 Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan was present at the opening ceremony of the 22nd Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Armenia has dispatched a delegation of four skiers to compete this year’s Olympics.

21-year-old Katya Galstyan, the country’s only female representative, is from Armenia’s traditional sports powerhouse, Gyumri. She will compete in cross-country skiing.

21-year-old Sergey Mikayelyan, who carried Armenia’s flag at the games’ opening ceremony, is the only athlete with past Olympic experience, having debuted at Vancouver. Born in Gorno-Altaysk, Russia is coached by his father Artur Mikayelyan and mother Alla Kapchikaeva (herself a 1988 Olympian).

23-year-old Artur Yeghoyan, born in Armenia’s northern town of Ashotsk, also trains with Artur Mikayelyan in cross-country skiing.

And 26-year-old alpine skier Arman Serebrakian has taken time off from medical school to follow in the footsteps of his little sister Ani-Matilda Serebrakian who represented Armenia in the 2010 Olympics. Serebrakians were born and raised in northern California, where their parents moved from Iran.

Russian President Vladimir Putin opened the Winter Olympics in Sochi on Friday after a lavish opening ceremony showcasing Russia as a resurgent nation.

“I declare the 22nd Winter Olympic Games officially open,” Putin said, raising the curtain on an Olympic Games that started as his pet project and has become the crowning moment of his third term as president.

In front of a near-capacity crowd at the 40,000-seat Fisht Olympic Stadium and millions of TV viewers worldwide, the opening show drew on Russia’s rich musical and literary heritage, with a few nods to its Soviet past.

“Tonight we are writing a new page in Olympic history. These are the first-ever Olympic Games in the new Russia,” said International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach. The German former fencer, 60, is overseeing his first Games since replacing Jacques Rogge at the helm of the IOC in September.

“The Russians’ desire for their own winter sport resort was so great because of their passion for sports on snow and ice. What took decades in other parts of the world has been achieved here in just seven years. That is a remarkable achievement.”

Bach called on athletes “to live together with harmony, with tolerance and without any form of discrimination for whatever reason,” after an Olympic buildup marred by disputes over Russian laws banning promotion of non-traditional sexual relationships to children.

With a total cost of $51 billion, the Sochi Olympics are on course to be the most expensive in history by some measures, although that includes infrastructure not directly used for the Games and Russian officials say only $6.4 billion of directly competition-related costs should count.


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