In August 1979, the International University Sports Federation awarded the right to hold the Universiada'81 to the city of Jaca. The 24th of february 1981 the fireworks over the ski slopes of La Jacetania marked the begining of the Games. The olympic flame could not have arrived at a murkier moment. The Soviet delegation came at the event eighty-strong, including fifty competitors who crushed all-comers with nineteen medals. Then the disappearance of the journalist Sergei Shachin leapt onto the front pages. When the Soviet delegation realised he was missing they went straight to the police, claiming he had been kidnapped or suffered an accident. Meanwhile, María Pilar Izuel, one of the first female taxi drivers in Spain was being hired in Canfranc to make a trip to France.
«He was carrying a blue bag and wore a three quarter length coat with a leather collar, jeans, black boots or shoes, he had no hat so you could see his unkempt hair. We scarcely exchanged a few words: he told me that he liked the scenery very much. His bearing, at all times, was very calm and correct. We spoke in french, a language of which his command was less than perfect.»