Master Sprint Games: 1st time in Asia with lots of happy faces !
That's right, this was the first time either Sprint or Allround Games were ever held in Asia (or for that matter anywhere outside Western Europe or North America). 117 skaters took part from 10 countries: Finland, Germany, Norway, Netherlands, Sweden, Romania, United States, Russia, Ukraine and certainly Kazakhstan. On Friday, the participants braved temperatures of -30°C during a city tour. They visited Astana landmarks, enjoyed the views from Baiterek tower, visited the newly built Astana opera and watched the training of young cycling track athletes at Astana Saryarka Cycling track. The tour was followed by a welcome reception. The conditions for the competition inside Alau Ice Palace were their usual comfort: air at +13°C air, ice at -6,6°C. The Games were opened with a brief ceremony, watched by hundreds of spectators: Alau Ice Palace together with organizers decided to go on with public skating in the center rinks to popularise speed skating. This had a great effect: dozens of parents requested to sign up their children to speed skating training groups.
The closing banquet we were told was the something that very few will ever forget! Lots of food, lots of drink, Kazakh folk music, Olympic mascot quizzes, dancing way into the night and do we need to mention especially invited dance band that really fired up the audience!