16 August 2013, 14:14

Sochi 2014: Why summer resort makes perfect Winter Olympics venue

Презентация медаль медали Зимняя Олимпиада 2014 Олимпийские игры сочи 2014 Бронзовая медаль

The official motto of 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games is “Hot. Cool. Yours.” Those are the three magic words that, according to organizing committee’s president Dmitry Chernyshenko, reflect the diversity of Russia. It is also a reference to the image that most foreigners have of the host country. In reality, the roots of these ideas don’t run deep. The media jest about too little snow in the subtropical climate at best and, at worst, hint that someone’s caprice played the decisive role in setting aside more suitable venues for the sake of the sun-baked Sochi resort.

Sochi has been praised as the “sun city,” the “magnolia land,” the “Black Sea pearl,” and the “Russian Riviera,” among other picturesque attributes that pay homage to the splendid southern resort sprawling miles and miles along the Black Sea coast. And indeed it is the only subtropical city in the whole Russia and the warmest, according to weather statistics. A range of high peaks shield it from biting northern winds, making its waters suitable for swimming for a lengthy period from May to October. Autumn brings in the “velvet season,” the best time for holidaymakers to enjoy the weather.

Sochi’s humid climate, a never-freezing sea and evergreen parks overgrown with rare, relic plants, coupled with diverse natural landscapes have long been a tourist magnet all year round, while Sochi sanatoriums still attract people with their tested wellness traditions, though the city owes most of its recognition to the healing sulphate-rich waters of the Matsesta river.

Russia is a truly vast land. Nevertheless, the only coast where you can build a first-rate sea resort is here in Sochi. Local residents admit that the city will probably never rise to the level of what you might call a “world’s best seaside resort.” It was built upon a clay-and-sand slope, and every tropical rain overflows the numerous creeks and rivulets, sending muddy currents down the ridge and into the sea.

However, it is the geography and geology of this place that have made its mountain-locked seaside valleys perfect for winter sports. Krasnaya Polyana is but one of such venues. Masses of humid air cling to the Main Caucasian Ridge, creating “ski-grade” snow that is both dense and plastic to the touch. Sometimes snow stays trapped in Sochi’s secret valleys for seven or eight months longer than the official skiing season. Add unique, mild climate, breathtakingly majestic landscapes, sea and long strolls along the coast all year round – and you will get a perfect holiday mix.

In a nutshell, Sochi has been picked as an Olympic host city in an attempt to turn the “Russian Riviera” into a modern winter resort, while also preserving its “summer potential.”

The 2014 Winter Games will kick off on February 7 and take place in two venue clusters:

- The Coast Cluster, dubbed “Olympic Park,” is situated on the very rim of the Black Sea coast and houses an ice stadium, a curling center and the Olympic Village. It is here that the opening and the closing ceremonies will be held;

- The Mountain Cluster, or “Krasnaya Polyana,” includes a ski jump center and an extreme park, as well as the mountain Olympic Village and a “media village.”

President Vladimir Putin dubbed the upcoming Games the “most compact” Winter Olympics ever, since visitors will be able to move from the seashore cluster to the Krasnaya Polyana valley in the surrounding mountains in a matter of 30 minutes.

Krasnaya Polyana boasts a reputation of a sophisticated ski venue and climatic health resort. Several sports facilities have been added to its skyline in the run-up to the Sochi Olympics, including the Roza Khutor skiing center, which will host the majority of Olympic events with athletes vying for a total of 30 medal sets. As many of Sochi venues, the valley complex has already been tested in several show competitions.

Apart from being a winter sports venue, Roza Khutor offers athletes a wide range of summer activities, such as biking and horseback rides, climbing, agritourism, and pleasure trips to Alpine tundra and lakes hidden high in the mountains.

It’s also worth noting that after the 2014 Sochi Games the Olympic Park on the Black Sea coast will be given another upgrade to host the future Summer Olympics. Olympic Organizing Committee’s head Dmitry Chernyshenko assured reporters that the proposed Sochi bid for the next Summer Games was “not a joke.” “It’s too early to say whether we’ll be able to pull it off, but we are already working on it,” he said.

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