SOCHI 2014

By Doug Williams | April 23, 2013, 4 p.m. (ET)

 
"The Path to Sochi 2014" was well represented at the Rock ’n’ Roll
Marathon in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Pavel Krapiva has been in the United States 20 years, but news from his Russian homeland still grabs his attention.

So when Sochi was awarded the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games for 2014, Krapiva was excited.

About six months ago, he and many other Russians now living in the United States — including several Olympians and world-class runners — decided to share their enthusiasm for the Sochi Winter Games with their American friends.

Krapiva, president of the American-Russian Sports Association, worked with the Association of Russian Women to help put together an informational campaign called The Path to Sochi 2014.

Krapiva and the approximately 40-plus others involved in the campaign want to get the word out to Americans that the Sochi Winter Games present a special opportunity to watch Olympic competition in a setting like no other. The group is not affiliated with the International Olympic Committee or the Russian Olympic Committee. It is simply a collection of Russian Americans who wanted to inform the American public about Sochi and share a bit of national pride since Russia will host the Winter Games less than a year from now.

The goal, he said, is to get Americans to get to know a little more about Russia and Sochi so they can appreciate the Winter Games a bit more, and also to spark enough interest to perhaps encourage some Americans to take an even closer look.

“Maybe they’ll see and decide to go,” he said.

Sochi is a resort city by the Black Sea, complete with palm trees and almost-tropical scenery just miles from snow-capped peaks and venues for skiing, snowboarding and alpine events. Krapiva calls Sochi “a hidden treasure.”

“By itself, Sochi is just a beautiful city,” Krapiva said. “It’s a very appropriate place for a winter Olympic Games. But not too many people are aware of this. … So we thought it might be nice to let them know.”

The campaign includes several men and women who plan to run in distance races across the U.S. wearing “Sochi 2014” T-shirts, and an information booth with banners, balloons and Russian and American flags.

Among the athletes participating in the group are Andrey Kuznetsov, a former 10,000-meter runner in Russia and masters champion at the Boston Marathon; Elena Orlova, an elite-level masters marathon champion; four-time Soviet Union world champion distance standout Tatyana Pozdnyakova, now a masters marathon champion; Olympic marathoner and 2000 New York City Marathon champion Lyudmila Petrova; Olympic 10,000-meter runner and current marathoner Firiya Sultanova and Barcelona Olympic marathon champion and silver medalist in the 1996 Olympic Games Valentina Yegorova. 

Their informational campaign began in March at the Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon in Washington, D.C., then moved to Charleston, S.C., for the Cooper River Bridge Run, a 10k, April 6. Next up is the Seattle Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon June 22; the Peachtree Road Race 10k in Atlanta July 4; and the Baltimore Marathon Oct. 13.

 
"The Path to Sochi 2014" was well represented at the Rock ’n’ Roll
Marathon in Washington, D.C.

Kuznetsov said the Sochi Winter Games present a chance for Russia to put on its best face and show the world it can be a perfect host. It’s been more than 30 years since an Olympic Games came to the nation, but then it was a summer Games in Moscow, under the flag of the Soviet Union, when many western nations, including the United States, boycotted.

Now, Kuznetsov said, he’s excited for Americans to see what Russia can do in a place that probably most know nothing about.

“Sochi is unique, with so many climatic zones in close proximity to each other,” Kuznetsov said through an interpreter. “It makes it a once-in-a-lifetime experience. … People shouldn’t miss this.”

Orlova said she was happy to see the interest shown by other runners and spectators at the marathon in Washington, D.C., and she said the whole project is another example of ways the Russian and American people can come together. The more they know about each other, the better.

“Sport is something outside of politics, so no matter how different the Russian and American people are, sport is something that can unite them at the Olympic Games,” she said through an interpreter.

Krapiva said Orlova and Kuznetsov have been key organizers of the campaign, bringing in athlete participation.

Krapiva said at the Washington race everything went as well — or better — than they had hoped. People constantly stopped by their information booth to ask questions and talk about the 2014 Winter Games.

“That’s what we were hoping for,” he said.

Story courtesy of Red Line Editorial, Inc. Doug Williams is a freelance contributor for TeamUSA.org. This story was not subject to the approval of any National Governing Bodies.

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