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Sochi: Explore the venue for the 2014 Winter Olympics

Sochi: Explore the venue for the 2014 Winter Olympics Editors, February 3, 2014
February 2014 sees the start of the 22nd Winter Olympic Games. This year the games will be held in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia. Situated in the foothills of the Caucasus, this year round resort will be the central focus of the games and the venue for the Olympic Park. Often referred to as the Russian Riviera, this area has an unusual combination of climates — a frigid mountain environment and a mild, Mediterranean-style coastal area.
Where is Sochi, Anyway?
Flickr, John Morn

Where is Sochi, Anyway?

Sochi, Russia, is a city of around 340,000 people situated picturesquely on the northeastern coast of the Black Sea. Winter Olympics on the coast? Well, the Caucasus Mountains are north and east of the city so even though the city itself rarely freezes, has an average January temperature of 43 degrees Fahrenheit, and sports palm trees, there are places not too distant where one can ski. A half-hour high-speed train ride will deliver spectators to mountain locales. Snowfall has not been especially heavy so game organizers planned ahead and piled last year's snow into gullies, covering it through the summer. Snow machines will have to make up any shortfalls for the alpine events.

Sochi has been a resort destination for Russians for a hundred years and even Stalin built himself a retreat there. The city boasts impressive neoclassical architecture, a lively social scene and those pleasant temperatures. Events such as hockey, speed skating and curling can of course be held indoors and a number of in-town centers and arenas have been built in what is known as the Olympic Park.
Issues Surrounding the Games
Flickr, Fabio

Issues Surrounding the Games

Current Russian President Vladimir Putin has made the upcoming Olympic Games his special project, hoping it will enhance his standing in world politics and Russian history. Money has been poured into the construction of the Olympic sports venues at astounding rates and these Games, already costing over 50 billion dollars, will be the most expensive ever, by far. That's nothing new, as many previous Games have been astronomically expensive, but other political pressures may spoil the Russian festivities. Talk of boycotting the Games over Russia's harsh laws regarding gay and lesbian rights has put a damper on the celebratory mood. Putin attempted to lighten the image of the government by releasing a number of political prisoners, but worse problems followed shortly. Terrorist bombings in Volgograd in recent days, likely by separatists from the North Caucasus region have shaken Putin's declaration that these games will be completely secure. Volgograd is a good 400 miles northeast of Sochi, but will be a major travel connection for those visiting the Sochi games.

So Sochi has its work cut out for it as the Opening Ceremonies of February 7th draw closer, and as always, expectations are high. Despite the many difficulties plaguing the process, the Olympics almost always pull through and deliver a stunning show of pageantry and astounding feats of sports performance. Putin and a lot of other Russians are staking their reputations on it.
Federation Island
Flickr, YY

Federation Island

Here's an interesting side note on Sochi. Although it won't be ready by Olympics time as was once hoped, and doesn't even appear to have begun yet, a massive project has been Putin-approved for an area offshore near Sochi. Called Federation Island, it may someday be a collection of man-made islands shaped like the map of the Russian Federation, featuring hotels, apartment buildings, villas, entertainment centers and more. Located 150 meters off shore, 2.5 kilometers long and 1.5 kilometers wide, the island (or islands) would boast underground auto parking for the 40,000 guests and residents. Or you could pull into one of the 900 yacht slips. Environmentalists are cringing, but this hugely grandiose development has been hailed as another jewel in new Russia's emerging status. In reality, actual construction progress since the 2007 announcement appears to be nil. However it does make for a great graphic. For a list of products related to Sochi, Russia and the Winter Olympics, please visit Sochi products page.

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