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Kolmogorov Open Cup: mathematicians completed a memorial 5k ski race
The main prize – the engraved Cup with Kolmogorov’s signature – went to mathematician Alexander Komlov from Steklov Mathematical Institute of RAS.

The Kolmogorov Open Ski Cup launched the commemorative campaign to celebrate the 120th anniversary of the birth of notable Soviet mathematician Andrey Kolmogorov. The campaign will culminate on Kolmogorov’s birthday, April 25, with the opening of the ‘VR Kolmogorov’ exhibit at Skoltech. The campaign is also a part of the Decade of Science and Technology initiative.

On the snowy morning of March 4, mathematicians and math lovers gathered in City Park Odintsovo to compete in a 5k classic-style cross-country ski race and pay tribute to mathematician Andrey Kolmogorov. Kolmogorov, who contributed to several fields of mathematics and gained international recognition, was also an avid ski lover, according to his followers. In his journal, he wrote that skiing on a sunny March day was the only distraction from his strict daily work routine he would allow. 

“Andrey Kolmogorov, one of the greatest mathematicians of the 20th century, was born 120 years ago. Skiing was his favorite pastime, and he was very good at it. This race is a tribute to his memory,” Skoltech President Alexander Kuleshov addressed the participants before the start. “Let me recall the Olympic principle: The most important thing is not to win, but to take part.”

The top three finishers in the ‘mathematicians’ category were Alexander Komlov from Steklov Mathematical Institute of RAS, Igor Udovichenko from Skoltech, and Ivan Sukharev from MSU. The best time among ‘math lovers’ showed Ivan Bulychev, Sergey Kurprin, and Nadezhda Sukhareva.

During the award ceremony, mathematician Albert Shiryaev from Steklov Mathematical Institute of RAS and Kolmogorov’s disciple recalled their joint ski trips: “Speaking on behalf of Andrey Nikolayevich’s disciples, I can say that you have no idea how happy he would have been to see a ski race arranged specially for his birthday.” Shiryaev was a part of the Kolmogorov’s circle and took part in cross-country ski runs with him. 

“We used to take a train to Zagorsk and then ski back to Bolshevo, covering about 40 or 50 kilometers in one day.” Shiryaev preferred to ski alongside Andrey Nikolaevich. “First, I was going slowly, then fast, and then slowly again, while he had a steady pace to the finish. Some skiers dropped out and took the train or bus back. After the race, we would enjoy a hot dinner with boiled buckwheat and a hot shower at Kolmogorov’s dacha.” 

Kolmogorov also practiced ice swimming. “If it was warm outside and ice was breaking up on the Klyazma, he would make us dive into the icy water! Andrey Nikolaevich would have been genuinely delighted about the race,” Shiryaev said.

The Kolmogorov axioms are the foundations of probability theory introduced by Russian mathematician Andrey Kolmogorov in 1933.

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