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Lacrosse Teams Face Off in St. Petersburg

Published: May 28, 2014 (Issue # 1813)



  • Local players train for the upcoming Capitals Cup on Saturday.
    Photo: Katya Savinskaya / for SPT

As the world prepares for this summers FIFA World Cup, two teams in Russia are gearing up for their own sporting showcase. The St. Petersburg White Knights and the Moscow Rebels, Russias only two lacrosse teams, will play each other in the Capitals Cup in St. Petersburg on Saturday to determine the champion of Russia.

Although largely unknown in Russia, lacrosse has rapidly grown in popularity in the United States, where it is considered the countrys oldest sport, and is gaining popularity around the world.

The game dates back to the 17th century, preceding American sports such as baseball and football by more than 200 years. Known as the little brother of war in some tribes, the sport earned the moniker of lacrosse from French settlers who thought that the sticks used looked similar to the crosses bishops carried.

As the game modernized, the rules and equipment followed suit. Instead of hundreds of people playing on a field miles long, the current rules allow for only ten men on the field for each team at a time. When played, it resembles a combination of hockey and football, both European and American, and is often called the fastest game on two feet.

This weekends showdown in St. Petersburg between the two clubs is also a preparation for the Moscow clubs players who will be traveling to Denver, Colorado, to play for the Russian national team in its first ever appearance at the Lacrosse World Championships this summer. Russia is in a group with Argentina, New Zealand and Wales, and they are scheduled to play each team once.

The fact that there is even going to be a team in Denver is largely thanks to the efforts of David Diamonon, the founder of the Moscow club, who was inspired to try and bring the sport to Russia after watching highlights of the 2006 World Championships.

However, various logistical problems, as well as some cultural differences, have hindered the development of the game in Russia. The biggest challenges are administrative, Diamonon said. Unlike in the U.S., where grass fields are more or less in abundance, Russia sorely lacks easily accessible playing fields.

Lack of equipment is also an obstacle, he said. If someone wants to play, and even shows up but cant easily get their own gear, its easy for them to lose interest while theyre waiting for an order.

Gene Arkhipov, head coach of the Moscow club, echoed Diamonon in bemoaning the lack of suitable infrastructure but also noted that there isnt any kind of system to develop young players in Russia.

In the states, each school has a team and people can play for free anywhere, Arkhipov said. There are leagues and by playing sports, people can achieve something or get a free education.

Despite such obstacles, Diamonon and Arkhipov are sure that given time, the sport will take off in Russia. Challenges notwithstanding, Russia is a country brimming with sports enthusiasts who are limited in their options, Diamonon said. Not everyone can be a star in soccer or hockey lacrosse provides a dynamic and worthy alternative to talented athletes who are looking for outlets outside of the Big Two.

Russia has incredible lacrosse potential, Arkhipov added. If we look at our youth programs in Moscow, and how they grow and how good the kids play and how natural it comes to them, the future looks bright.

This weekends matchup between the two teams is at 1 p.m. in Tavrichesky Garden between Chernishevskaya metro station and Smolny Institute.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Oct. 31


Put your grammar and logical thinking to the test in a fun and friendly environment during the British Book Centers Board Game Evening starting at 5 p.m. today. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.



Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at todays Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nations premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the citys elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolans latest film Mommy at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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