The Medeu (Kazakh Медеу, which would be more properly spelled Medew to suit the correct pronunciation), or Medeo (traditional Russian: Медео), outdoor speed skating rink is one of the most famous ice rinks in the world. It is located in a mountain valley (Medeu Valley, or the valley of Malaya Alma-Atinka River) on the south-eastern outskirts of Almaty, Kazakhstan. It sits 1,691 metres above sea level and utilizes a sophisticated freezing and watering system to ensure the quality of the ice.
The Medeu Dam, built in the late 1960s, stands immediately south of the skating rink, protecting it – and the city of Almaty itself – from potentially devastating mud flows. Viewpoints on top of the dam provide great views of the stadium.
Medeu has seen many world records in all the speed skating distances from 1951 through the 1980s: 500 m, 1000 m, 1500 m, 3000 m, 5000 m and the 10000 m. In 1972 the rink made a very succesfull transition from natural ice rink to artificial icerink. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the costs to uphold the arena as a top speed skating rink have proved too costly for the independent Republic of Kazakhstan. The last great championship event on this ice rink was held in 1988 — the Men’s World Speed Skating Championship — which was won by the American skater Eric Flaim.
In the early 2000s, Medeo’s future status as a competition rink is uncertain. However, it was proposed as the speed skating venue both for Almaty’s unsuccessful bid for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games and the successful one for 2011 Asian Winter Games. Kazakhstan government plans to renovate the facility in time for the 2011 games.
The rink has also been used a