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This Saturday, the people of Russia have chosen the Olympic and Paralympic mascots of Sochi 2014. The Hare, Polar Bear and Leopard have been chosen as the official Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games mascots following the results of a public vote during the live television show "Talismaniya Sochi 2014 - The Final". The Ray of Light and the Snowflake will be the Paralympic Winter Games mascots in 2014.
According to Dmitry Chernyshenko, President and CEO of the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee, this was the first time in the history of the Olympic Movement that the whole Russia was involved in choosing Olympic mascots."There are three mascots for the Olympic Winter Games, representing the three places on the Olympic podium. All top-three characters according to the Olympic system will become the Olympic Winter Games mascots. The mascots are the choice of the whole of our country and will remain in the history of the Olympic Movement", said Chernyshenko.
The Russian people were voting by sending a text message or calling a free phone line. At 11.20 pm MT (GTM+3 hours) the final results of the vote were announced. The election council made the decision that the top-three characters with maximum number of votes would all become the Olympic Winter Games mascots: the Polar Bear, the Hare and the Leopard.
The honour of selecting the Paralympic Winter Games mascot was given to the Paralympic champions. After a period of deliberation, representatives of the Paralympic Movement - the Paralympic Games champion and the general secretary of Russian Paralympic committee Mikhail Terentiev, the Paralympic champion and the Sochi 2014 Ambassador Olesya Vladykina, and Paralympic sportsmen Alexander Alyabyev, Vladimir Kiselyov, Margarita Koptilova, Xenia Ovsyannikova and Igor Pustovit - have named Ray of Light and Snowflake as the Paralympic Winter Games mascots.
Commenting on the Paralympic Winter Games mascot selection, Mikhail Terentiev said: "The story of our fantastic mascots is that they arrived from a far-out planet and that they have infinite potential. It is a highly powerful and emotional image that, despite the difference in their make-up, the Ray of Light and the Snowflake are so united. I'm sure our two mascots will provide further inspiration to our future Paralympic champions and will help to develop Paralympic sports in Russia."
The mascots are a result of The All-Russia contest, a competition managed by the Sochi 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games which allowed every Russian to send ideas to the mascots designs. A total of 24,048 ideas were received by the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee during the competition. All of the authors of the designs that appeared in the final will receive a special invitation to attend the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in 2014.