Sochi 2014: The Build Up To the Winter Olympics


Whitelines’ contributing editor Nina is out in Sochi already, and will be sending back periodic reports on the build up to the games.

Downtown Rosa Khutor. 

There’s a strange atmosphere in Sochi right now. It’s like that feeling when you’re hosting a party and nervously twiddling your thumbs, waiting for everyone to arrive. With just over two weeks until the Olympic Games kicks off, everything is very quiet.

The streets are empty, the stations spotless, the hotels awaiting arrivals, the shops are piled high with multi-coloured Sochi memorabilia. As with all parties, there’s a few bits that errrr… aren’t quite ready yet. For one, the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park is still under construction.

But as one Russian volunteer said to me yesterday: “We Russians may not be fast at working, but we are fast at racing!”

The halfpipe earlier this week. 
Up the cable car to the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park.

You may have already heard that Sochi is the warmest Winter Olympics ever. I didn’t quite believe it until I landed in Sochi and saw a balmy 14°c recorded on the temperature gauge.

Luckily, the Games aren’t actually held in the city’s warm, palm tree lined streets. The alpine events are taking place 25 miles away in the alpine resort of Krasnaya Polyana.

Spectators are swept up to the town of Rosa Khutor on a shiny new electric train with a hilarious British voice announcing the station names in a very serious Russian accent. Every train I’ve been on so far, there’s a Russian taking the piss out of it.

Shiny streets of Rosa Khutor.

So what’s Krasnaya Polyana like? Well, everything is brand new and immaculate. Rosa Khutor – the hub for the alpine events – has been transformed from a rural village into a luxury ski resort with shiny Doppelmayr cable cars, big wide European-style streets and buildings that look like they’ve been plucked out of a catalogue called “How To Make Your City Look Like Austria”.

The buildings that look like they’ve been plucked out of a catalogue called ‘How To Make Your City Look Like Austria’.

It’s pretty clear why this is the most expensive Winter Olympics ever. A whole new resort has been created to host it.

But it seems the Russians have set their sights on making the money back. After the Games finish, Rosa Khutor is set to be marketed as a luxury Russian ski resort. The prices certainly reflect that. Right now, a pint costs a whopping £7 up in Rosa Khutor, while it costs £18 just to get into the Sky Lounge club down the road in Esto Sadok.

Security-wise, the Russian police are seriously on it. I think I’ve been through about 12 scanning machines a day and there are police manning every street corner. So despite all the warnings, Krasnaya Polyana is feeling pretty damn safe right now.

This dude wasn’t so pleased about having his picture taken…

Oh and those volunteers’ uniforms I was moaning about?

They may well be bright but these people are lifesavers when no-one around you speaks English. So I take back my unkind words about their attire.

With construction still underway up at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park and the Olympic Park, it does bring into question whether it will all be ready in time. But there’s still hope.

Firstly, it’s snowing up on top of the mountain and as one security guard said to me, “We’ve still got two weeks! That’s plenty of time.” After watching these edits from the GB Freestyle Snowboard Team Ski , I’m just pumped for everyone to get out here and get the party started!

P.S. Look what I found in the supermarket… Tasty!

Mmmm! Photo: Nina Zietman.


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