Adler Arena will be used for long track speedskating during the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
A WINTER FIRST
When the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games open Feb. 7, 2014, it will mark the first Winter Games to be held in Russia. The Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games will mark the first Paralympic Games in Russia and will be held March 7-16, 2014. Moscow was host to the U.S.-boycotted 1980 summer Games. Sochi won the vote over Salzburg, Austria, and Pyeongchang, South Korea, to host the 2014 Winter Games. (Pyeongchang won the bid for 2018.) The Winter Games in Sochi will be one of the most compact Games in recent history. The indoor arenas, called the Coastal Cluster, are all within a few minutes walking distance of each other. The Coastal Cluster includes the Fisht Olympic Stadium. The Mountain Cluster venues, used for skiing and other outdoor sports, are located just 30 minutes away in the Krasnaya Polyana Mountains.
SO … WHERE IS SOCHI?
Think Russia, and you might think about sub-zero temperatures that much of the large country endures over a typical winter. But that’s not Sochi, a resort town in south Russia with a population of 400,000 located on the Black Sea. It has developed a touristy, warm feeling and is known by some as the “Russian Riviera.” While Olympic winter conditions will prevail in the Krasnaya Polyana Mountains for the ski, bobsled and luge competitions, Olympic-time temperatures could be in the 40s and 50s back in the Olympic Park and Olympic Village. It has reached 70 degrees in February. Sochi is located almost closer to Istanbul, far eastern Turkey, than it is to Moscow: 1,643 kilometers away (1,020 miles) as compared to 1,623 (12 miles shorter). Sochi Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov says it is not unusual to visit the area in March or April and see skiing going on in the Krasnaya Polyana Mountains at the same time that sunbathers are laying on the Black Sea beaches at Sochi.
BRING A BOOK
If you’re thinking about traveling to the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games and taking a side trip to Moscow for sightseeing, it’ll be a bit of a trip. Trains go between the two cities every day, but it is a train ride of more than 30 hours. So bring a good book. And a pillow. Sochi does have an international airport, Adler-Sochi International Airport, which has been undergoing renovations for the 2014 Games.
|Scenic view of the Krasnaya Polyana Mountains in Sochi, Russia.
Four venues located in the Krasnaya Polyana Mountains will be
host to the outdoor winter sports.
There will be competition in seven sports in Sochi. But overall, that expands to 15 disciplines within those seven sports, including three in skating (figure skating, short track speedskating, long track speedskating). Skiing is the king of the Winter Games, with six disciplines: alpine, cross country, Nordic combined, ski jumping, freestyle and snowboard.
WOMEN SOARING HIGH
Lindsey Van and other U.S. women’s ski jumpers will finally get their Olympic experience in 2014 when women’s ski jumping makes its Olympic debut. The International Olympic Committee approved the inclusion of women in ski jumping in April 2011, one year after legal action did not get the sport included at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. Van is a 15-time U.S. champion who won gold at the first world championship for women’s ski jumping in 2009. Other U.S. women’s ski jumpers include 2012 FIS World Cup champion Sarah Hendrickson, who won gold at a World Cup event in December at the Sochi venue of RusSki Gorki. “I enjoyed jumping this hill,” she said. “It is great to win on the 2014 Olympic Games venue.” Other new disciplines added to the Sochi Olympic Games include a team event in figure skating, team relay in luge, mixed relay in biathlon, and ski halfpipe, ski and snowboard slopestyle and snowboard parallel special slalom.
|Sochi 2014 Ambassador Tatyana Navka with the Olympic Torch|
THE COASTAL CLUSTER
Sochi 2014 officials are calling this the most compact Games in terms of the distance among the venues. Among them is the Coastal Cluster, a combination of six venues: Fisht Olympic Stadium, Bolshoi Ice Dome, Shayba Arena, Adler Arena, Iceberg Skating Palace and Ice Cube Curling Centre. All these facilities are arranged in a circle at Olympic Park along the Black Sea coast, meaning it will take just a few minutes to get from one arena to another one. The Fisht, or Olympic Stadium, will be used for Opening and Closing Ceremonies, as well as future FIFA World Cup soccer competitions when Russia hosts in 2018. The Iceberg Skating Palace will be host of the figure skating and short track speedskating competitions. Adler Arena will be used for long track speedskating. The Ice Cube will be used for curling. Ice hockey will be held at both the Bolshoi Ice Dome and Shayba Arena. The Olympic Village, International Broadcast Centre and Main Press Centre are also located in Olympic Park.
THE MOUNTAIN CLUSTER
Four venues located in the Krasnaya Polyana Mountains will be host to the outdoor winter sports. The Rosa Khutor Alpine Resort will be home to alpine and freestyle skiing, and snowboarding. Ski jumping and Nordic combined will be held at RusSki Gorki Jumping Center. Cross country skiing and biathlon will be held at Laura. The bobsled, skeleton and luge courses will be at the Sanki Sliding Centre.
THE OPENING CEREMONY
The cultural and artistic impressions of Russia are likely to be highlighted in the country’s first Olympic Opening Ceremony since 1980. While information about the ceremony has been slow to be publicized thus far, what is known is that the Opening Ceremony will include reenactments of scenes from 19th century novelist Nikolai Gogol’s “Dead Souls” and a tribute to the Urals, a large mountain range that goes across western Russia. Visual effects will include a fleet of ships commanded by Peter the Great, along with warriors and mermaids from various medieval fairy tales. Do NOT expect another appearance by Agent 007, James Bond, as he was at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
|A general view of the 'Russian Trampoline' jump prior to men's
downhill training at the Audi FIS World Cup on Feb. 10, 2012, at
Rosa Khutor Mountain Resort in Sochi, Russia.
SEEKING MORE MEDALS
The United States will enter the 2014 Winter Games riding the high of the 2010 Games. The United States captured an Olympic Winter Games-record 37 medals (9 gold, 15 silver, 13 bronze) in Vancouver. In Sochi, skier Bode Miller would be skiing in his fifth Olympic Games. He won gold in the super combined in Vancouver. Ted Ligety, an Olympic gold medalist in 2006, is shooting for his third Games. Lindsey Vonn, who is closing in on the World Cup career wins record, likely will be heading to her second Games after winning two gold medals in Vancouver. Nordic combined skier Todd Lodwick is vying for his sixth Olympic team. Julie Chu, one of the veteran leaders on the U.S. women’s hockey team, has played in three Olympic Games. The biggest figure skating story might be the ice dancing team of Meryl Davis and Charlie White, who recently won their fifth consecutive national championship. Sochi would be their second Olympic Games. They earned the silver medal in Vancouver. Steven Holcomb, who led Team USA to the gold medal in 2010, marking the first time in 62 years that years that Team USA struck gold in the four-man bobsled, will be looking to defend that title and possibly win another gold in the two-man event. One of the most recognized U.S. Olympic winter athletes is Shaun White, who has won two halfpipe gold medals and will be vying for a third in Sochi. Also possible is the return of Apolo Anton Ohno, who will be 31 when the Winter Games take place in Sochi. The most decorated U.S. winter Olympian, with eight Olympic medals, Ohno still has yet to determine whether he will be in Sochi as a competitor.
One year out from the start of the 2014 Olympic Games, venues at Olympic Park and the Krasnaya Polyana Mountains will be busy during February 2013 with test events. Seven events will be held in February, including five World Cup competitions and two world championships: World Wheelchair Curling Championship, Feb. 14-24, Ice Cube, and World Junior Curling Championships, Feb. 26-March 11, also at the Ice Cube. Other test events include a luge World Cup, Feb. 18-24, Sanki Sliding Centre; bobsled and skeleton World Cup, Feb. 3-18, Sanki Sliding Centre; and World Cup short track speed skating, through Feb. 4, Iceberg Skating Palace. Six more test events are scheduled for March, including long track speedskating and two IPC Paralympic skiing World Cups. “I’m super excited, I’m looking forward to that,” said U.S. speedskater Heather Richardson, a 2010 Olympian and the 2013 world sprint champion. The first test event occurred nearly a year ago, when alpine skiing was held at Rosa Khutor. Some skiers, including Bode Miller of the United States, did feel there were too many turns on the downhill course at that time. “The venue, the mountain is world class,” Miller said. “It’s as nice as any of the places we ever go and it’s going to be amazing to host the Olympics here.” Figure skaters got a sneak peek at the skating venue when the ISU Grand Prix Final was held in Sochi in December.
|Sochi 2014 mascots in Sochi Olympic Park|
Three mascots were chosen for the Sochi Games: The Polar Bear, The Hare and The Leopard. All three appeared at the London 2012 Olympic Games. The mascots were decided in 2011 during a public vote. The Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games have their own two mascots: Snezhinka, the snowflake, and Luchik, the ray of light.
THE TORCH RELAY
The relay will begin Oct. 7, 2013, and will travel through all 83 regions of Russia before arriving at Olympic Stadium for the start of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. And that’s no easy task for a large nation that borders 18 other countries. Russia’s borders total more than 60,000 kilometers. The torch relay will last 123 days and travel more than 156,000 kilometers, arriving at Olympic Stadium for the Opening Ceremony on Feb. 7, 2014. Plans call for 14,000 torchbearers along the route with more than 30,000 volunteers helping in various roles. A Russian team led by Vladimir Pirozhkov and Andrei Vodyanik designed the torch, and red is its primary color. The torch weighs 1.8 kilograms. “I’m very excited. It’s a big thing in Russia and it’s a very good thing,” said Russian hockey player and captain of the NHL’s Washington Capitals Alexander Ovechkin, who was selected as a torchbearer and Olympic ambassador. “I’m very proud I’m one of the guys who is going to have the torch.”
Competition in five sports will be held at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games: Alpine skiing, cross country skiing, biathlon, ice sledge hockey and wheelchair curling. The Paralympic Games will use five of the venues that will be also be used at the Olympic Games.
LIVE SITES IN RUSSIA
In addition to the 75,000 visitors that Olympic officials are expecting daily in Sochi, the country is planning to spread the Olympic excitement throughout its nation via a number of “Live Sites” in major cities such as Moscow. The Live Sites will be set up in city centers, and will include large video screens, sound, light and stages. Officials are expecting up to 30 million visitors at the Lives Sites.
Story courtesy Red Line Editorial, Inc. Paul D. Bowker is a freelance contributor for teamusa.org. This story was not subject to the approval of any National Governing Bodies.