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© Sergey Anisimov

Reindeer sledge race kicks off Reindeer Herders’ Day celebrations on the Yamal Peninsula

The Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Area is celebrating Reindeer Herders' Day, according to the website of the local government. Individual and team competitions in national sports, which attracted tundra dwellers driving 150 reindeer sledges, were held at Kar-Nat, an outpost in Purovsky District.

The message of greetings that Governor of the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Area Dmitry Kobylkin sent to the participants in the festivities reads as follows: "Reindeer Herders' Day is a truly popular, large-scale and spectacular holiday celebrated by Yamal reindeer herders, which epitomizes their nomadic spirit and is a true brand of the Arctic."  

Ninety-eight contestants from seven local farms took part in the competitions at Kar-Nat. The sporting events included cross-country skiing, a national variety of wrestling, tug-of-war with a stick, throwing a tynzyan [a leather belt lasso about 30 meters long] on a khorei [a three-meter-long wooden stick, which is normally used to drive a reindeer sledge], the national triple jump and jumps over sledges.

The team from the Kharampurovskaya farming community came out on top of the overall team rankings; contestants from Purovsky State Farm in the village of Samburg, the region's longest-operating farm, were the runners-up; and the team representing the Ety-Yalya tribal farming community based on kinship ties from Khalyasavei finished third.

Contestants from Verkhne-Purovsky State Farm won the reindeer sledge race. Alexei Pyak finished first among 102 contestants who took part in the men's heat, while Lidiya Pyak won the women's heat, which drew 53 competitors. Nikolai Aivasedo took first place in the mixed event.   

Under the festive cultural program, Yamal's indigenous people demonstrated their works in a national costume competition and local women vied for the Best Chum Keeper 2017 title [chum is a reindeer-skinned tent]. The jury named Lyubov Suzdaltseva, a housewife from the Ety-Yalya tribal farming community, as the winner of the competition.

The celebration of Reindeer Herders' Day on the Yamal Peninsula will last till the end of April. Festive events will be held in 25 settlements. The 22nd competitions among reindeer breeders, the Yamal Governor's Cup, will be held in Nadym on March 4-5. On March 18-19, the city of Novy Urengoi will be the venue for The Holiday of the People of the North festival. On March 25, a community center in Salekhard, the capital of the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Area, will host the Forum of the Indigenous Peoples of Russia's North, Siberia and Far East. The festivities will conclude in the village of Gyda, Tazovsky District, on April 19-20.