$45M Bobsled Track to Help In Training for Sochi Olympics

ria-novostiMedvedev looking at a bobsled at the new track in Paramonovo on Monday.
The Moscow region unveiled a $45 million bobsledding track Monday, the country's first to meet international standards, and President-elect Dmitry Medvedev said it was a sign of the country's resurgence.

"Until recently, we were poor, and we could not allow ourselves to have complexes on this global level," Medvedev said at the track's opening ceremony, national media reported.

The bobsledding complex, which has room for 300 spectators, will help the country's athletes prepare for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and the 2014 Games in the southern Black Sea city of Sochi, Medvedev said.

"Now our athletes will not have to go abroad to train but can do so at home, and the home surroundings help," Medvedev said a week after winning in a landslide presidential election to replace incumbent Vladimir Putin.

The track in the Moscow region town of Paramonovo is 112 meters tall and 1,600 meters long, and will be the first in Russia to meet the standards of the International Federation of Bobsledding and Tobogganing, the sport's world governing body.

Bolstered by nine straight years of economic growth and high oil prices, Russia has pledged to spend billions of dollars on the Sochi Olympic Games and on sports in general to promote its image on the world stage.

"We will build the whole range of sports facilities so that all of our citizens can participate in sports and physical fitness virtually every day," Medvedev said.

The Soviet Union won its only Olympic gold medal in bobsledding in the two-man event at the 1988 Games.

Three years later, the Soviet Union collapsed, causing Russia's huge sporting budgets to plummet and many of its star athletes to emigrate.