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22 January 2021 | in Winter FISU World University Games

Spotlight: Remembering the Erzurum 2011 Winter Universiade

 

universiade erzurum with flameUnlike the first Summer Universiade Turkey hosted back in 2005, the home team did not punch above its weight in the first winter edition it organised. In fact, Turkey won just a single medal at the 2011 Erzurum Universiade, compared to 27 in Izmir six years earlier.

 

But these Games were all about Turkey taking that very important first step forward in hosting major winter multi-sports events – and it turned out to be a giant leap indeed.

 

Thanks to all the new infrastructure that the country decided to invest in the Universiade – including an incredible five new skating venues alone – Erzurum would be transformed into the region’s biggest winter sports resort. More importantly, it now had everything in place to host world-class multi-sports events: in addition to hosting Winter Univeriade 2011, Erzurum has successfully held the 2017 European Youth Winter Olympic Festival, World and European curling championships, a FIS Nordic Skiing Junior World Championship, and an IIHF Division III World Hockey Championship, to name a few.

 

So confident have the organisers become in hosting winter sports events that Erzurum has even thrown its hat into the Olympic Winter Games ring. The area unsuccessfully bid to host the 2026 Olympic Winter Games, sunk in part to a lack of transport hubs to accommodate such a huge influx of visitors, but look for the region to be back in the running again soon.

 

Of course, all these international events and world-class venues have had an added benefit of growing ice and snow sports in Turkey, which has become one of the greatest Universiade legacies for Turkey and FISU.

 

Aside from the stunning natural scenery of the area, the one thing that stood out about Erzurum 2011 was how compact the Games were. All the athletes were housed in a single Athletes’ Village on the campus of the Ataturk University, quite a rarity in winter sports events these days. It was made possible by the fact that the furthest ski venue was only 30 minutes away. The compactness of the Universiade, coupled with the great facilities and first-class dining experience on the campus led FISU President George E. Killian to state: “This is one of the best Athletes’ Villages we have met with to date.”

 

On the field of play, Russia crushed the competition in Erzurum, winning almost double the number of medals (38) than the next best finishers South Korea (15) and Ukraine (15).

 

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