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Tarvisio (ITA)

Tarvisio 2003 ITA FISU

  • 46 Nations participating
  • 1266 Athletes participating
  • 10 sports


Ideal snow conditions, world-class venues and enthusiastic local supporters provided the perfect platform on which 1,266 athletes from 46 countries performed at the 2003 Tarvisio Universiade in Italy. 


The only notable hiccup was a shortage of accommodation to house the record 1,953 participants (athletes, coaches, referees, etc.) that showed up, but the local organisers quickly dealt with the issue and soon discovered the surplus of people meant the venues were never empty. 


Sporting highlights included Italy’s surprising fourth-place finish in the ice hockey tournament, eventually won by the juggernaut Russians. 


In skiing, Slovenia stood out with two gold medals in the men’s downhill and giant slalom, led by Ozbi Oslak, who won a gold (downhill), silver (super giant), and bronze (combined) at the Universiade. Russian Anastasij Popkova repeated the feat in the women’s competition, winning gold in the giant slalom, silver in the women’s downhill and bronze in the super giant. 


Kazakhstan and Russia dominated in cross-country skiing, Japan ruled the Nordic Combined and Korea and Slovenia took top honours in the ski jumping events. Russia won gold in every figure skating event aside from the women’s individual, which was claimed by Japan’s Shizuka Arakawa. When FISU Chair of the Technical Committee Dagmar Rehakova (CZE) awarded Arakawa with her medal, she told the then 21-year-old: “I hope you win the same medal at the World Championships.” 


Rehakova’s wish would come true the following year in Dortmund, where Arakawa won her first and only World Championship. In 2006 – the same year she would retire from the sport – Arakawa won gold at the Olympic Winter Games Torino.  


China, Korea and Canada divvied up the medals in speed skating, while the Russians, Ukrainians and Belarusians would do the same in the biathlon events. 


In snowboarding, all but two medals (19 of 21), went to Europeans, with only Daisuke Murakami (gold) and Hayato Doi (bronze) of Japan preventing a total sweep in the men’s halfpipe. 


Curling joined the Universiade programme for the first time in Tarvisio. Russia beat Canada in the women’s final and Canada beat Switzerland for gold in the men’s. The sport made a great impression on the local fans as well as on FISU and it would be brought back onto the programme again at the 2007 Winter Universiade in Torino. It has been on the programme ever since. 


In the end, Russia led the way for the third straight Winter Universiade, winning 12 gold, 10 silver, and 10 bronze medals. Italy, meanwhile, won an impressive 20 medals overall – a good omen for the 2007 Torino Winter Universiade, which was awarded to the Italian city just prior to the start of 2003 Tarvisio.