I, Elena Khrustaleva, silver medal winner in biathlon at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, champion of the 2011 Asian Winter Games, speak in defense of Kok-Zhailau and against construction of the mountain ski resort.
Kok-Zhailau is not the best place for mountain skiing resort because of several parameters. This hollow is not suitable for a professional track, because it has insufficient length and unsuitable relief. Let us recall that the ski tracks at the sports complex Chimbulak were remade to be more complicated to comply with the international standards for the 7th Winter Asian Olympics which took place in Almaty in 2011. Meanwhile, Kok-Zhailau is located at a lower altitude and has flatter slopes with snow coverage for only 2-3 months a year. This place is not suitable even for junior-level competitions, not even mention international championships. And overall, what is the need to destroy the national park, when we already have an excellent place – Chimbulak. Kok-Zhailau does not have a space for 500 km of ski tracks. I make this judgment from the point of view of a professional athlete. Obviously, after construction of the ski resort, Kok-Zhailau hollow will not be accessible for recreation of ordinary people. Right now, it is actively used by the city residents the whole year round. And this is also a reason why I am against any construction development. This is the only place where there are no cars, and where people can peacefully hike and breathe fresh air. All other places are already covered by a grid of auto roads, and the endless flow of cars leaves smoke and trash behind itself. Our President, Nursultan Abishevich said that the cable road to Chimbulak was built in order to reduce the car flow into the mountains, because our fir trees are very sensitive to the automobile exhausts. And here, we don’t have a road to Kok-Zhailau, but we will build it for the ski resort – so, how about the fir trees and other nature? We are caring about Chimbulak, while ignoring the spots nearby?!
A lot is being said about “European experience”. Currently, I am in Europe, and can say that here there are both, mountain ski resorts and areas for hiking and biking trails only. While in our country, active recreation choices are only represented by the ski tracks which are very far from being affordable by the majority of the residents, because the prices are unreasonably high. In Europe, the prices are 30-40% lower. If Kok-Zhailau is developed, then the city residents will not have anywhere to hike, breath fresh air, or have a work out. If we really want to follow European experience, we need to leave this mountain valley untouched, undeveloped and open for public hiking.
I myself often come to Kok-Zhailau, because I am in training from May to November. Firstly, it is close to the city, which means there is not need to spend a lot of time on transportation, and secondly, I like it for its fresh air, lack of cars and trash.
I personally heard the words of the President about development of mountain ski resorts. During the meeting with the athletes, at a lunch after the Asian Winter Games, it was said about development of Talgar zone. That area, indeed, has suitable slopes, and it was also said about creation of “Chamonix” over there, and that it is intended to develop specifically that region.
If we talk about pouring huge amount of people’s money – taxes – into development of sport, I can say that a better investment would be to spend this money on construction of children’s sports complexes, which we simply do not have, and there is, indeed, an urgent need to build those. We talk a lot about necessity of high sports achievements, but champions are needed to be raised somewhere, while there are no conditions in our country for that. There is no a single children’s ski track in Almaty, no children’s trampolines, no roller track, no children’s ice-skating rinks (there are only places for common and adult’s skating – and everything is far away from the city, and the skating rinks are located on the malls). We have sites for professional and large-scale sport. But we lack of outdoor facilities to train children. The 12 billion tenge would be enough to build several very good children’s sports centers within the city limits. The city grows by leaps and bounds, and an acute necessity arises for construction of sports centers in different parts of the city, where we could raise future Champions for our Country!