Northern Polyathlon Events Can Be Developed as Ethnosport

Aleksey Kylasov, President of the Traditional Games and Ethnosport Federation of Russia, discussed the prospects of cooperation with Pavel Semizorov, President of the Northern Polyathlon Federation of Russia.

The meeting took place in Khanty-Mansiysk, during the Russian championship in the northern all-round events. Eugeni Redkine, a Mansi-born Olympic champion, Director of the Physical Culture and Sport Department of the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous District – Yugra, was the initiator of the meeting, and also gave a speech in its anticipation. He drew attention to the lack of interest to official competitions on part of viewers from the indigenous peoples of the north. Apart from that, Eugeni Redkine called to discuss an innovative model for the Traditional Games and Ethnosport Federation of Russia, which proposes holding events in the form of play during traditional games, hosted at national calendar holidays, and thus attracting thousands of spectators.

Aleksey Kylasov, President of the Traditional Games and Ethnosport Federation of Russia, proposed to develop the northern polyathlon events not only as a sport (using timing and scoring), but also as ethnosport with a simple definition of a winner according to the folk tradition – who ran first, who jumped further, – in a word, coped with the task better. Then Aleksey Kylasov criticized the current practice of Russian Championship in the Northern all-around during the autumn and winter:

\»It is fundamentally contrary to the tradition of Northernern peoples. Such competitions were held in the spring, before bringing cattle to summer pasture, as a celebration which had no specific date. It was intuitively determined by shamans with an onset of warm days, and could be held at a different time each year, even in the same territory – from the end of February to the beginning of April. It is important that even in Soviet times this tradition of celebrating was preserved, although it had undergone some changes.
Keeping the tradition was due to the fact that before bringing cattle to pasture, herders gathered in regional centers, cities and trading stations in order to sell their meat, get medical advice, necessary documents, and obtain benefits and compensations. Tundra dwellers discussed pressing issues with the government and among each other, while still hosting traditional games for their own delight and for the community’s amusement. The Soviet government announced such seasonal meetings of the townsmen with the indigenous peoples of the north to be the Reindeer Breeder Day. At the same time, I must say that initially, since 1932, the Reindeer Breeder Day was celebrated in the summer, at the end of summer grazing, on the first Sunday of August. Based on this, I think it is not necessary to break the tradition, which was not lost even in Soviet times, and hold competitions in the northern polyathlon according to the national calendar – both in the summer and early spring.\»

At the end of his speech Aleksey Kylasov proposed a cooperation agreement between the Traditional Games and Ethnosport Federation of Russia and the Northern Polyathlon Federation of Russia, in order to jointly host mass events, including cups and championships in Russia. \»It is appropriate to host Russian championships during traditional games on the Reindeer Breeder Day; however, they should not be limited to specific disciplines of the northern polyathlon, as it is contrary to the festive and ceremonial culture which contains a lot of primordial play. Holding the latter is what we are going to do,\» said Aleksey Kylasov.

Pavel Semizorov, President of the Northern Polyathlon Federation of Russia, said that at present, the Federation must be accredited in the Ministry of Sport of Russia (due to expiry of the previous accreditation, which is issued for four years), and that the proposal of the Traditional Games and Ethnosport Federation of Russia is consistent with their desire to position the northern polyathlon as a national kind of sport.

Meanwhile, such a desire creates a certain conflict, as the national kinds of sports, appearing in the register of the Ministry of Sport, contain direct references to the ethno-cultural affiliation (Chuvash kereshu wrestling, Yakut national jumping, khapsagai wrestling and mas-wrestling). Apart from that, it is impossible to historically attribute the events of the indigenous peoples of the north, called the \»northern polyathlon\», to any particular people.

At present, the northern polyathlon is attributed to the second section of the \»All-Russian\» register, but this sport is developing only in 12 regions of Russia, while the appropriate number for acquisition of a nationwide status is 43. It is not worthwhile to seriously count on the development of the northern all-around in places outside the traditional territories of the indigenous peoples of the north, because this sport is only practiced there. In this way, there remains a single way of transitioning to a lower level – the first section of \»Recognized\», where outsiders are collected (10) and make a slightly bigger quantity than the national sports (4). For comparison, in the \»Applied\» section there is 22, and in the \»All-Russian\», among which there is no northern polyathlon just yet, there are 130 kinds of sports.

In this situation, an informed decision should be made. Transferring kinds of sports into the first section of the register involves termination of funding, which would hardly suit Pavel Semizorov, President of the Northern Polyathlon Federation, a member of the Legislative Assembly of the Krasnoyarsk Territory from LDPR (the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia). An argument in favor of the all-round event can be existence of a quite numerous representation in the championship of Russia – 141 athletes from 12 regions, among which the best teams became that of the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous District – Yugra (278 points), the Krasnoyarsk Territory (374 points), and the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District (457 points). Points are awarded according to the “the fewer the better” principle (1 point for the first place, 2 points for the second place, 15 points for the fifteenth place etc).


Individual championship among women
1. Yana Saulenko, master of sports, Magadan region
2. Anna Adamovitch, master of sports, Khanty-Mansiysk-Yugra 
3. Irina Zhuravleva, candidate in masters of sport, Krasnoyarsk region

Individual championship among men
1. Maksim Nigamatullin, master of sports, Khanty-Mansiysk-Yugra
2. Anton Skorokhodov, master of sports, Krasnoyarsk Territory
3. Valery Komzolov, master of sports, Khanty-Mansiysk-Yugra

Fron left side: Alexey Kylasov, Eugeny Redkin, Oleg Khatanev, Pavel Semizorov