The champions’ plane touched down at Pulkovo at noon. The absolute champions of ACM ICPC-2017 were greeted by journalists, friends and fans. This year, ITMO University was represented at the International Collegiate Programming Contest by students of Computer Technology Department Vladimir Smykalov (first year of Master’s program), Ivan Belonogov (fourth year of Bachelor’s program) and Ilya Zban (fourth year of Bachelor’s program). They managed to solve 10 out of 12 problems in the least amount of time and with the least errors and beat this year’s top pick: the team from University of Warsaw and the other frontrunners – teams from Seoul National University and St. Petersburg State University, who won the contest last year. A total of 130 teams took part in the international championship, 13 of them representing Russia.

“Many competitions and training sessions were held throughout the year in which our close competitors – Warsaw and Seoul – showed excellent results. Until the contest began, we were all a bit nervous, but once it all started, we got into our routine – simply distanced ourselves from everything and forgot about our worries. I believe what helped us is that we started off great; it allowed us to stay on that level for the rest of the contest – which we did” – shares Ilya Zban.

ITMO University’s team was trained by their regular coach, Andrey Stankevich, an associate professor at the Computer Technologies Department, under whose guidance the university’s team has achieved all seven of its victories. Last year he received the prestigious ACM ICPC Senior Coach Award given to coaches whose teams play in the competition’s finals  for 15 or more years. As he notes, this year’s competition is proof that vigorous training and a strong resolve can lead to a well-deserved win.

“Our team is a symbol of ambition and hard work. None of the guys have ever been to an international contest, none of them could boast about having a great number of accomplishments by that point, but they fought; they trained since their first year. And finally, this year, after so much training we received our just reward. I believe that this demonstrates that those who always strive towards their goals will one day achieve them”, - said Andrey Stankevich at the celebratory ceremony in the champions’ honor.

From Pulkovo the champions headed to ITMO University to place their cup next to the others. Here they were met by fellow students and those who watched the live stream from Rapid City all through the night.

Andrey Stankevich

“Obviously I didn’t sleep the whole night; I watched the whole five hours of the contest. Went to bed at nine in the morning, I think – sleep was out of the question during the final stage and especially after the victory. We didn’t know if they’d win until the very last moment. When it finally became clear, we were overwhelmed with emotion”, - says ITMO University student Angelica Finyutina.

The winners were congratulated by Vladimir Parfenov, Dean of Information Technologies and Programming Faculty, Anatoly Shalyto, head of Programming Technology Department and Vladimir Vasilyev, Rector of ITMO University, who, at the time of the final competition in Rapid City was on a work trip in Kazan.

Vladimir Vasilyev

“It was 2:30 in the morning, but we were still up watching the broadcast and the news. Naturally, when the winners were announced we felt fantastic. Becoming six-time winners was a breakthrough and now we won for the seventh time! This is certainly all thanks to the great efforts of our students, our professors, our distinguished coach Andrey Stankevich. These victories are also a testament to our university’s great educational system. We begin working with our students when they’re still in school – this includes our summer schools. And, naturally, what we’re doing here at the university is a continuation of that special approach” – emphasizes Vladimir Vasilyev.

The celebratory ceremony for the world champions in collegiate programming then continued in a less formal setting. At 19:00 more than 70 students, employees and professors of ITMO University joined the sixth bicycle ride with the Rector. Among them were previous champions of ACM ICPC: Boris Minaev, Niyaz Nigmatullin, Gennady Korotkevich and this year's winner Ivan Belonogov.This year’s ride introduced a new route: it started at the entrance to Primorsky Victory Park, passed through it and by the St. Petersburg Arena stadium, over the new Yachtenniy bridge and end in the Park of the 300th Anniversary of St. Petersburg, where the riders turned around and headed back to the starting point. On their way the participants took group photos in front of the new stadium and the Lakhta Center skyscraper.

Sixth bicycle ride with ITMO University's Rector

 According to Vladimir Vasilyev, who himself often rides a bicycle to work, such events are one of many ways for students and professors to meet outside of the university.

“We are the first non-classical university and so the training process and the communication between students and professors in general is very non-formal and open. We’re open; we don’t teach here, we take part in joint activities: students, professors, Rector. Events like these, without a doubt, are helping us strengthen that relationship” – concludes Vladimir Vasilyev.