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Medeo & Chimbulak


Medeo - The Medeu or Medeo is an outdoor speed skating and bandy rink. The main attraction of the Almaty area is the picturesque mountains, with forests, lakes and alpine meadows in abundance. They offer excellent opportunities for leisurely walks as well as the most demanding treks. It is located in a mountain valley (Medeu Valley, or the valley of Malaya Alma-Atinka River) on the south-eastern outskirts of Almaty, Kazakhstan. Medeu sits 1,691 metres above sea level, making it the highest skating rink in the world. It has 10.5 thousand square meters of ice and utilizes a sophisticated freezing and watering system to ensure the quality of the ice. 

The Medeu Dam - built in the late 1960s, stands immediately south of the skating rink, protecting it - and the city of Almaty itself - from potentially devastating mud flows. Viewpoints on top of the dam provide great views of the stadium. Medeu has seen many world records in all the speed skating distances from 1951 until the 1980s: 500 m, 1000 m, 1500 m, 3000 m, 5000 m, and the 10000 m. In 1972, the rink made a very successful transition from natural ice rink to artificial ice rink. The bandy team Dynamo Alma-Ata, won the Soviet Championships in 1977 and 1990 and the European Cup in 1978. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the costs to uphold the arena as a top ice rink proved too expensive for the independent Republic of Kazakhstan. The last great championship event for a long time on this ice rink was held in 1988—the Men's World Speed Skating Championship — which was won by the American skater Eric Flaim. In the early years of the 2000s, Medeo's future status as a competition rink was uncertain. However, it was proposed as the speed skating venue both for Almaty's unsuccessful bid for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games and the successful one for the 2011 Asian Winter Games. In the end, bandy was the only sport here during the Games. Speed skating was held at an indoor arena in Astana. Medeo was the main arena of the 2012 Bandy World Championships.

Hurricane Damage in 2011 - Two deadly hurricane force wind attacks happened in Almaty in July 2011 and caused serious damage to the city itself and to the national park in particular, sweeping down thousands of century-old pine trees, once the pride of the Medeu National Park. Local scientists from the National Park estimate that full restoration of the vegetation to the pre-hurricane condition may take several decades.

Chimbulak - A few kilometres north from Medeo there is ski resort of Chimbulak at an altitude of 2300 metres above sea level. The skiing season here runs from November to April. The one can hire the ski equipment, stay overnight at the Chimbulak hotel or walk around. Also it is a good point to start countinous trekking with final destination in other gorges or Kyrgyzstan's Issyk-Kul lake.