Tag Archives: Sport

Kazakhstan: The Samuryk Flies Again

19 Jul

The Samuryk, a phoenix-like bird of Kazakh legend, is taking flight once again – this time in the form of the Samuryk Paragliding club, which meets in the hills above Almaty to evoke the spirit of this mythical bird.

A paraglider takes to the skies at Ush Konyr

Most weekends Almaty’s paragliding fans gather at Ush Konyr, which is located just outside the village of Shamalgan, to soar into the skies off the steep escarpment that towers above the plain that is home to Kazakhstan’s commercial hub. The site is famous across the former Soviet Union with paragliders and is home to many competitions in season.

The Samuryk and its nesting place play a key role in Kazakh mythology. One of the most famous landmarks in Astana is Bayterek, a 97m-tall observation tower built at the centre of its main drag. The glass ball at the top of the structure represents the Samuryk’s egg.

Bayterek, Astsna, Kazakhstan

According to legend, the Samuryk returned every year to lay its egg, representing the sun, in the upper branches of the tree of life known as Bayterek. This egg was then devoured by a dragon, symbolising the eternal rhythm of night replacing day and winter following summer.

Returning to the modern-day Samuryks, this summer will see various competitions taking place at Ush Konyr with it hosting stage 4 of the Russian Open Paragliding Cup 16-21 August, the Open Kazakhstan Championship 22-27 August, and the Open CIS Cup 28 August – 2 September. 

Rip-Off Kazakhstan

11 May

This is the first in an occasional series of Rip-Off Kazakhstan (ROK) awards made by Kazaxia to businesses in the country offering poor value-for-money.

Congratulations to Rakhat Fitness in Almaty – the first business in Kazakhstan to receive a ROK award.

With summer just around the corner, this fitness centre has decided to introduce a 50% price hike – previously a monthly 12-visit pass cost 17,000 tenge ($117), now it’s 25,000 tenge ($172) or around $15 per swim.

That might not seem too bad, but for that you are allowed 75 minutes a session to change, shower and swim, and that’s if you’re lucky and there’s room in the pool.

The 50-metre pool is currently under repair and is closed until 22 May so wannabe swimmers will have to fight it out with the water polo teams for a small slice of the 25-metre pool.

The owners can’t be short of a bob or two – the fitness complex was formerly owned by Rakhat Aliyev,  the former husband of Dariga Nazarbayeva, eldest daughter of  President Nursultan  Nazarbayev.  It is rumoured that many of his assets were transferred to his ex-wife, although who  owns the fitness centre is unclear.

Aliyev, who is now living in exile in in Vienna, Austria, was sentenced in absentia  to a 20-year prison term after being found guilty of running a crime ring, abduction, theft and extortion in 2008. In the same year he was sentenced to another 2o years by a  secret military court for

attempting to forcibly seize power, illegally receiving and divulging state secrets, running an organized crime group, theft and illegal possession of firearms, theft of state property and abuse of power

Aliyev was famed in Kazakhstan as a ruthless money-grabber and is seems his legacy lives on with the current owners of Rakhat Fitness continuing to coin it in.

Futsal Finals Come to Almaty

26 Apr

Baluan Sholak Sports Palace Almaty - venue for UEFA Futsal Cup finals 2011

Almaty will put itself on the map of international sporting events this weekend as it hosts the  UEFA Futsal Cup finals. It’s the first time ever that Kazakhstan has been chosen to host the finals of a UEFA tournament.

Local favourites Kairat Almaty will face off with Sporting Clube de Portugal on April29. Later that day SL Benfica, also from Portugal, will take on Italy’s  ASD Città di Montesilvano C/5. The winners of these two games will battle it out in the final on May 1.

Futsal is basically five-a-side football played in an indoor arena. The match consists of two halves of 20 minutes and unlimited substitutions are allowed at any time from a pool of 12 players.

Kairat are a force to be reckoned with in Futsal – it has made the semi-finals of this annual  tournament three times since 2006. Kazakh midfielder Dinmukhambet Suleimenov is confident that Kairat, which has eight Brazillians on its books, can use its home advantage and be crowned UEFA Futsal champions for 2011

Kazakhstan’s Ice Queens Mauled in Switzerland

18 Apr

Kazakhstan’s women’s ice hockey team have been taking a mauling at the world championships in Switzerland. Despite being the top team in Asia and ranked 8 in the world, the team has found itself seriously out of its depth in Switzerland.

On 17 April Canada downed the Kazakhs 7-0. The scoreline could have been worse but for the valiant efforts of 20-year-old goalie Daria Obydennova who blocked 64 shots on goal. It was an exhausting weekend for Daria – on Saturday she made 52 saves as the Kazakhs lost 5-3 to Finland.

Kazakhstan won gold in the seventh Asian Winter Games, held in Almaty and Astana earlier this year, after beating China 4-1 in the final. The scale of the task facing the Asia’s ice queens is put into perspective, however, with the fact that Canada has some 85,000 registered players whilst Kazakhstan has just 86.

There’s still an outside chance that Kazakhstan could progress to the quarter-finals if it can mange to overcome Switzerland on Tuesday 19 April. There’s hope for the Kazakhs as Canada trounced the hosts 12-0 earlier in the week.