March 7 2006
Children meet Olympic double champion
07/03/2006 - On Monday, 27 February, half a dozen kids from SOS Children's Village Keila, Estonia went to welcome cross- country skier Kristina Smigun, a two-time Olympic gold medallist in Turin, to give her their present.
The present - a two-meter long scarf - is a true example of the elation Smigun caused with her two Olympic gold medals from Turin. The village's handicraft hobby group started work on the scarf as soon as it was clear that she had won the gold medal. From the hobby group the scarf traveled to each family house, and ultimately 24 kids and three SOS mothers knitted their ideas and good wishes onto the scarf.
"I had a dream that she would win gold, but I was still so shocked when she won that I fell to the snow," said 13-year-old Marko, who is a skier himself and who teaches younger kids in the village to ski.
Smigun recognized the children at the airport, as she had visited the village previously and had brought presents for the kids. "She recognized me and she came to hug me. That was so unexpected that I was very close to crying," admitted Marko.
The boy said that Smigun promised to visit the village again and he plans to learn some secrets to cross-country skiing. "I guess it's better to interview her father Anatoli, who is also her coach," said Marko confidently. Marko wants to interview the coach because the youngster serves in the same capacity for the children’s village. "I practice in a ski club and I thought that maybe it would be good idea to teach other kids as well," he said.
Although in the beginning there were many children who wanted to learn skiing, there are only nine at the moment. "We ski and run, and also learn how to ski down from the hills," Marko explained. After six months of training the club is already showing good results. "Mari and Jaanus won first prize in local competitions," recalled Marko proudly. "I participated in Tartu Marathon and was very successful - I skied 31 kilometers in two hours and 36 minutes and earned 138th place. Overall, there were more than a thousand skiers at that distance and I finished better than both the village director and his deputy!"
Kristina Smigun won two gold medals in cross-country skiing at the Olympic Games in Turin in February, and she is considered a friend of the SOS Children's Village Keila. She has visited the village a few times and has brought ski equipment for the kids.
Last autumn she participated in the campaign to find new supporters for the village. The campaign turned out to be a great success, as the number of supporters grew almost 20 times!