Listening to the Sound of Snow

Photo: Special Olympics athlete Alexandra Markova (l), coach Alexander Tyuliandin and Special Olympics athlete Anna Koneva (r). Photographer: Martha Jo Braycich

Special Olympics Russia coach Alexander Tyuliandin was quietly admiring the view of the city of Murmansk that stretched below the hills where the cross-country venue was located.

The sun was shining and the sky a robin’s egg blue, but it was cold.  How cold? he was asked. “At least -14C (6.8F),” he said.  How did he know? “When the temperature drops below -10C (14F) the snow makes a crunching sound,” said Tyuliandin, 60, who works in an institution for young people with intellectual disabilities in Kostroma.

Tyuliandin was listening as much as he was watching his two athletes, Ana Koneva, 12, and Alexandra Markova, 13, practice their graceful glides nearby in preparation for the next race.