Unless you’ve been living in a cave these past few weeks, then you’re well aware that the 22ndWinter Olympics are under way in the Russian city of Sochi. You’ve probably also heard or saw all the negative press regarding hotel conditions, security issues and expense. But aside from the bashing and negativity there are some very positive and interesting facts in this years’ games.
7 Positive Things about the 22nd Winter Olympics and (3 Interesting Ones about Sochi)
1. THE BIGGEST- With a cost of over $50 billion dollars, this Winter Olympics is by far the most expensive to date, outdoing the Bejing Summer Olympics by over $10 billion, but it’s also the biggest Winter Games to date. 12 Winter sports events will be making their debut making the total number of games 98, the most of any previous Winter Olympics. With roughly 6000 athletes from 88 countries, it also has the most nations attending including Zimbabwe and Paraguay for the first time.
2. THE GREENEST: With no nearby industrial facilities, Sochi has some of the cleanest air in the world among vast expanses of pristine wilderness. Due to the traditional environmental impact of such an enormous event, Russia has promised to make these the greenest Olympic games ever. Environmentally friendly building materials and renewable energy sources for all transportation, Olympic buildings and hotels, the city is on track to make the events climate neutral. On the mountain peaks of the Rosa Khutor Ski Resort artificial snow is being kept under special membranes, which prevents it from melting, and several other technology decisions were taken to build the arenas of the Sochi coastal cluster. For example, the Olympic stadium Bolshoi can supply electricity to itself, due to solar batteries on its roof and boasts a sophisticated air-purification system is hidden within its walls. All of these green structures and systems will remain active after the Olympics have finished.
3. THE MOST COMPACT: With 11 venues split between 2 areas, the Coastal Cluster and the Mountain Cluster, all the events are only 30 minutes apart by train, and for the first time ever in a Winter Olympics the ice arenas are all walking distance to each other. In the Coastal Cluster is the Olympic park, which can hold up to 70,000 people and connects the parking and venues. In the Mountain Cluster are the Ski and Biathlon Complexes, the Bobsleigh track, a Ski center, a Ski Jump Complex, a Snowboard Park and a Freestyle Center.
4. FURTHEST TORCH: The Sochi Olympic Torch relay incorporated the services of 14,000 people. The Olympic torch traversed through 40,000 miles of terrain and sky including the bottom of the worlds’ deepest lake, Lake Baikal and into outer space aboard the International Space Station. And for the 1st time ever in Olympics history, the torch journeyed to the North Pole.
5. MOST MEDALS: With new events and competitions added to this years’ games, the total number of medals at the 2014 Olympics is a record 1300. The medals themselves are unique, too. Using a combination of glass and metal to reflect the landscape of Sochi, with snowy peaks in the mountains and sandy beaches on the shore. Some of the Gold medals even have pieces of the Cheylabinsk meteorite inside of them. Regardless of their make-up, the construction of each medal is a very difficult and labor intensive process, with the time on average, to make each medal being somewhere around 18 hours!
6. THE WARMEST: Nicknamed the Russian Riviera, Sochi sits along the Black Sea and is home to palm trees, and warm, humid, tropical weather. The mountains are cold but the venues located near the Coastal cluster of events, is hovering around 50 degrees and warmer making Sochi the warmest location ever of the Winter Olympics.
7. EQUALITY: After much ado, lawsuits and lobbying, this is the first Winter Olympics where women are competing in the Ski Jump, and with their smaller and lighter frames, its believed they will soar longer and further than their male counterpartsIts. Another first time in the Sochi Olympics will be Russia’s first Para-Olympics and will also be the debut of the Para-Snowboarding competition.
8. ATHLETIC TRAINING: Aside from its famous resorts, Sochi is known for its athletic facilities. Champion tennis players including Maria Sharapova, Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Elena Vesnina all trained at Sochi’s tennis schools. Olympic swimmers Vladimir Nemshilov and Kharis Yunichev grew up in Sochi. And the city was home to basketball player Vladimir Tkachenko and bobsledder Alexy Voyevoda.
9. MYTHOLOGY HISTORY: According to Greek legend, Sochi’s Akhshtyrskaya Cave was the site where the Greek hero Odysseus encountered his nemesis, the Cyclops. And Sochi’s Eagle Rock was the site where Prometheus was chained as his punishment. A monument stands there now as a tourist destination. The legend of Matsesta was also set in Sochi. The story says a young girl named Matsesta, invaded an underground kingdom to find the spirit of the mountains. She killed the spirit, sacrificing her own life, and brought the healing sources of the river to the city. Sochi currently operates a wellness center where thousands of people are treated yearly, and the Matsesta River which bares her name, is a source of Mineral Water.
10. FOOD (yes, food!):While Russian cuisine doesn’t always make the top of everyone’s favorite culinary list, Sochi actually has some interesting and unique dishes. Shish kabobs are one of the most popular outdoor picnic dishes in Russia, eaten year-round. Cubes of marinated meat are put on a skewer, and roasted over an open fire and are traditionally served with onions, fresh veggies, herbs, lavash bread and a spicy red sauce. Another Sochi favorite is blini-or Russian crepe-and Solyanka soup, a hot and spicy soup made with slow-cooked meat, onions, carrots, garlic, tomatoes, and peppers. Interesting to note, Sochi is the only part of Russia warm enough to grow tea leaves. Established in 1905, tea plantations that sit in the mountains west of Sochi hold the title as the northernmost point in the world where tea is grown. The herbal blend, called Krasnodar tea, is traditionally served with poppy seed cakes, honey, and jams.