Co-hosting major multi-sports events is a hot topic these days but it is unlikely that anyone could have anticipated Spain and Slovakia teaming up to host the 27th Winter Universiade.
But team up they did after the southern Spanish city of Granada fell on hard financial times and were unable to hold the Nordic ski disciplines. Enter the Slovak University Sports Federation (SAUS), which agreed to host the cross-country, ski jumping and Nordic combined events in the FISU-familiar town of Štrbské Pleso, home of the 1987 and 1999 Winter Universiades, with biathlon held in neighbouring Osrblie.
“We knew that these Games would not be easy to organise under the circumstances,” said FISU President Claude-Louis Gallien. “FISU and all stakeholders have demonstrated innovation. We proved that it is possible to manage a competition in two cities and two countries. However, I bet that such a configuration will remain the exception.”
The Universiade ran for a full 20 days, with the action in Slovakia taking place before the competition in Granada began. Russia, which once again reigned supreme in the medal standings, won exactly 50 percent of all the medals on offer in Slovakia (39 of 78), bringing an insurmountable lead to Granada that left the other 41 nations fighting for second. In the end, South Korea finished runners-up with 16 medals, five more than Kazakhstan in third place. Russia’s 179 athletes left the 2015 Universiade with 56 medals.
South Korea has its sterling performance in short-track speed skating to thank for its second-place finish. Its athletes won 13 of the 24 medals up for grabs, including 5 gold and 7 silver. China collected three gold and four bronze medals.
The Norwegians ruled the women’s Alpine skiing events, taking four of the five titles: slalom, giant slalom, super G and combined. Switzerland and Italy split the golds in the men’s category, with Swiss Sandro Boner winning the combined and Alpine combined and finishing third in the super G in his fourth and final Winter Universiade.
In ice hockey, Russia triumphed 3-1 over Kazakhstan in the final in a battle between the next two Winter Universiade hosts – Almaty 2017 and Krasnoyarsk 2019.
Russia also did well in curling, its women’s team winning gold over Canada and the men finishing second behind Norway.
42 Countries participating
1,546 Athletes participating