WENY visits site of Winter Olympic Games
SOCHI, Russia – The Winter Olympic Games are just over 100 days away, and this time they are being held in Sochi, Russia.
Our Washington Bureau stopped by the Olympic Village during their recent trip to the G20 Summit in Russia to get a first-hand look at the preparations.
Sochi is known as a summer vacation spot. People flock to its rocky beaches along the Black Sea to escape the heat and humidity of Southwest Russia’s subtropical climate.
It’s also the place where construction crews are working 24/7 to build the Olympic Park for the 22nd Winter Olympic Games.
“It’s hard to believe things are going to get done in the next few months, and they’re going to be ready to go,” said Scott Salmond of Team Canada Hockey.
Salmond has visited Sochi four times and said the setup is different from the last Winter Olympic Games held in 2010.
“Vancouver, for me as a hometown Games was very different. A lot of the venues already existed. I would say that’s the biggest difference,” he said. “Here, it’s a hockey country. The venues are almost ready to go. It’s just the auxiliary support around the Games that are still going to be a challenge, I think.”
The Sochi games are divided into two clusters. The opening and closing ceremonies, and sporting events like hockey and figure skating, will take place in the coastal cluster. That’s also where the athletes will stay.
Outdoor events like skiing and bobsledding will take place in the mountain cluster, 30 miles away in the Caucasus Mountains, where it is a lot colder. A special railway was also built to transport the athletes and spectators there.
“Everything’s going to be together; all the athletes are going to be together, whether it’s here at the coast or up in the mountains. So I think, once it’s done, the vision, and the idea behind it, is unique,” Salmond said.
The Olympic and Paralympic Medals are also unique. The medals weigh more than one pound and are four inches in diameter. Adamas, a Russian jewelry company, won a bid to manufacture the medals.
“Our medals are one of the biggest and heaviest in the history of the Olympic Games,” said Natalia Stoletova, an Adamas representative.
Each gold, silver, and bronze medal also has a polycarbonate insert with tiny engravings representing the culture of Russia.
“It’s a great feeling that now we can see them, we can touch them, we can take pictures for good memories. And after that, we’ll see them on the TV,” Stoletova said.
The Olympic medals can only be touched with special gloves, and not just anyone can put them on – they are strictly for Olympians.
“Only they are allowed to wear these medals,” Stoletova said. “No one else.”
The Olympic flame, now on its way around the world, will reach Sochi for opening ceremony on February 7th.