Sochi is a city in Krasnodar Krai, Russia, located on the Black Sea coast near the border between Georgia/Abkhazia and Russia. The Greater Sochi area sprawls for 145 kilometers along the shores of the Black Sea near the Caucasus Mountains. According to the 2010 Census, the city had a permanent population of 343,334, which makes it Russia’s largest resort city. It is one of the very few places in Russia with a subtropical climate, with warm to hot summers and mild winters.
The unique beauty of its mountainous terrain, Sochi has mountain villages that will offer places where foreigners will have opportunities to listen to classic music and fairy tales of this region. Sochi is home to many popular Russian folk tales and famous fairy-tale characters (Baba Yaga, Firebird, Ilya Muromets, Sadko, Ivan the Fool and the Gray Wolf). These tales and characters will offer foreigners a chance to understand the personality traits of the Russian people, their humor, morals and values a little more clearly.
Sochi is not only hosting this year’s XXII Olympic Winter Games and XI Paralympic Winter Games (Sochi 2014), but also the Russian Formula 1 Grand Prix from 2014. It is also one of the host cities for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Sochi 2014 is being promoted as the most compact Olympic Winter Games ever. In total, there have been eleven athletic venues built for Sochi 2014. These venues will be divided into two clusters, both located within 48km of each other. A new railway was built to ensure that it is less than 30 minutes from the Coastal Cluster to the Mountain Cluster. Each cluster will have its own Olympic Village in which the athletes will be housed.
The first of the two clusters is the Coastal Cluster. This cluster will include five ice sport venues as well as the stadium for ceremonies centred in an Olympic Park. Thanks to the design of the park, travel time from the Olympic Village to each competition venue will be no more than five minutes. The International Broadcast Centre and the Main Press Centre are also located in this cluster.
‘Fisht’ Olympic Stadium
One of the most famous mountains in Russia is Fisht. Fisht Olympic Stadium will host the Opening and Closing Ceremonies as well as the Victory Ceremonies. There is a transparent roof which will allow spectators to easily see the entire beautiful mountain from foot to peak.
‘Bol’shoy’ Ice Dome and ‘Shayba’ Arena
Bol’shoy, meaning ‘big’, is fitting as the Ice Dome is the larger of the two hockey venues. It also replicates the image of a frozen drop. The second venue has a truly hockey-appropriate name. It translates to ‘puck’.
‘Ice Cube’ Curling Centre
This is another moveable venue that is home to figure skating and short track speed skating. The name is truly international, sounding the same in a number of languages including English, Russian and German.
This oval shaped arena will host long track speed skating and will have transparent walls that will allow spectators to see the scenic mountain views to the north and the seascapes to the south.
In Krasnaya Polyana, this is home to five venues for the snow and sliding sports. Between the Olympic Village and the competition venues, the average distance is four kilometres, which puts the travel time at less than 15 minutes.
‘Laura’ Cross-Country Ski and Biathlon Centre
The venue is named after a turbulent mountain river, which has its name based on an old legend. Legend dictates a young girl who ran away from an old prince she did not love, jumped into the river to die. Her true love followed her into the river and both of their bodies were never found. Locals say that the Gods were so moved that they took the two of them to the heavens at the summit of the sacred Mount Elbrus.
‘Rosa Khutor’ Alpine Centre
This is the alpine skiing venue that features slopes which were designed by world-renowned ski architect and 1972 Olympic downhill champion Bernhard Russi. The venue is a part of a resort in the Northern Caucasus region.
‘RusSki Gorki’ Jumping Centre
Playing on the English slang word for a Russian person, this ski jumping venue is the location at a junction of two ridges. This location was chosen to protect the jumpers from side winds and so that the jumps would blend into the landscape.
Sliding Center ‘Sanki’
Sanki, meaning sled in Russian, is an appropriate name for this venue. This venue will be home to the bobsleigh, skeleton and luge events.
‘Rosa Khutor’ Extreme Park
This venue has another fitting name, as it will host freestyle skiing and snowboard events.