Medeu in Almaty, the highest skating rink in the world

Heewon Jang | Live the World

November 23, 2022

There are a lot of activities you can do in Almaty, but visiting Medeu, the highest skating rink in the world is a must. It's an excellent way to enjoy beautiful nature while ice skating in the highlands of Almaty.  

What does Medeu mean? 

The skating rink was named after a well-known entrepreneur Medeu Pusurmanov. He was the first to explore the picturesque nature in the foothills of the Trans-Ili Alatau. The gorge where the rink is located also has his name. 

There's also a little bit of confusion with the right pronunciation: Medeo or Medeu. Both names are in use. Medeo is the Russian version, and Medeu is the Kazakh one. 

A little bit of history

Before Medeu was built, most of the ice skating competitions in the USSR were held in Siberia.  Long winter seasons provided good conditions for training. The head coach of the Soviet national team noticed an interesting coincidence - the Kazakh athletes, especially those from Almaty, showed better results than other skaters during the performances in Siberia. When he asked the Kazakh skaters what the secret is, they answered that the ice in Almaty is “faster”. To test this statement, a new skating rink was built at the Spartak stadium in Almaty. The Soviet coaches were truly surprised to see that the athletes set new records there. So, they decided to build a new skating rink in Almaty and place it in one of the Trans-Ili Alatau gorges to provide better conditions for the preparation of sportsmen in the highlands.  A special commission from Moscow spent a long time observing the places, to choose the right one for a future skating rink. The Medeu gorge was a perfect choice  - a flat plateau was ideally suited for the construction of the ice rink and sports ground. On February 5, 1951, the opening day of Medeu, two world records and six All-Union records were set. On this rink, the USSR national team became one of the leaders in speed skating. After that, Medeu became truly famous all over the Soviet Union. However, Soviet sportsmen practiced here not only speed skating but also figure skating and hockey competitions. The ice of Medeu has seen everything: sports victories, achievements, ambitious plans, ups, and downs. 

Picture © Credits to iStock/Pilin_Petunyia

Why is this skating rink so unique?

The first reason is the optimal level of solar radiation, as well as low pressure and low wind. The second reason is a unique composition of the ice that contains the clearest mountain water of Malaya Almatinka River. Such ice provides high sliding speed.

Picture © Credits to iStock/Pilin_Petunyia

The skating rink today

After the Soviet time, the rink only became better using the newest technologies to keep the quality of the ice. Nowadays, the Medeu skating rink is open from Tuesday** to Thursday from 18h to 23h. On Fridays, weekends and holidays from 10h to 16hand from 18h to 23h. The cost of an adult ticket is about five euros. Don't miss your chance to see Medeu, the highest skating rink in the world, while you are in Almaty.**

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