April 30, 2014 (ISN) – Russia’s ice sledge hockey squad was voted the IPC’s Best Team of the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games by the public for their silver-medal performance just five years after starting up a national ice sledge hockey programme.
During the late 2000’s, former team captain Vadim Selyukin, who lost both of his legs while serving in the military in Chechnya, built a Russian ice sledge hockey team from scratch. He launched a sports club for people with an impairment, and from there an international programme rapidly grew.
In their Paralympic debut, Russia got the host nation’s fans rocking the Shayba Arena for every game and shocked defending Paralympic champions USA in the preliminary round to finish first in Group B with an undefeated 3-0 record.
The Russians then beat Norway in the semi-finals before eventually losing to the USA in the gold-medal game.
Vladimir Kamantcev was an unexpected bright spot for the Russians, as the goaltender played 180 minutes between the posts, recording 40 saves and a save percentage of 95.24 in the tournament.
“I’m not disappointed at all,” Kamantcev said of winning silver. “We played well. It’s a dignified finish for Russia and for ourselves. We showed a good game, a battle, intellect, will and character.”
Evgeny Petrov was the largest contributor for Russia at the top of the ice with six points in Sochi, including two goals and four assists. Andrey Dvinyaninov and Vasilii Varlakov each finished the tournament with five points.
Canada’s wheelchair curling team, USA’s ice sledge hockey team, and Russia and Sweden’s Nordic skiing mixed relay teams were also up for the Best Team award.
In lieu of the IPC Athlete of the Month award for March, the honour was separated into three different categories – Best Male Athlete, Best Female Athlete and Best Team – based on results at Sochi 2014.
Earlier, American ice sledge hockey player Declan Farmer was voted the Best Male Athlete and French alpine skier was voted the Best Female Athlete of Sochi 2014.
The nominations for all three awards were compiled from submissions by National Paralympic Committees (NPCs) and International Federations (IFs).