By Emily Goddard

Alexander Alyabyev 090513May 7 - Alexander Alyabyev, Russia's youngest alpine skiing medal hope for the Sochi 2014 Paralympics, has participated in a special art project as part of the Cultural Olympiad for the next Winter Games.

The 23-year-old skier, who came second in the overall men's rankings at the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) World Cup in 2011-2012, helped paint the Sochi 2014 motifs and mascots on five benches for the "Bench of Peace" art initiative.

Professional artists and charity representatives, including Andrei Bartenev, the Artplay Centre of Design, the "Vinzavod" Centre of Modern Art and Konstantin Khabenski's charity foundation, also took part in the painting and gave creative master classes.

The project, which is supported by the Moscow Department of Culture, will eventually see 300 decorated benches along the Kuznetsky Most pedestrian street in the centre of Moscow, with 50 of the benches also being sent to Sochi for the Games.

bench of peaceThe "Bench of Peace" art project forms part of the Sochi 2014 Cultural Olympiad

"I am really happy to be taking part in such a big artistic project as the Bench of Peace," Alyabyev said.

"What is great is that regardless of the variety of themes and paintings on the benches, there will be a harmonised look to it all.

"That is probably one of the main ideas of the project - to highlight what brings us all together, despite our physical, emotional and ideological differences.

"My drawing will no doubt be of a Paralympic sport, seeing that in less than a year one of the most important sporting events will begin – the 2014 Paralympic Games in Sochi."

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