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Vancouver Signs Over Winter Games to Sochi

  • David Byrd

Sochi Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov (l) and Dzhambulat Khatuov, the first vice-governor of the Krasnodar Region

Sochi Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov (l) and Dzhambulat Khatuov, the first vice-governor of the Krasnodar Region

Although the Vancouver Games have not ended, the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia are in the news. At a special ceremony Tuesday, Vancouver and British Colombia officials signed over the Winter Games to officials from the Black Sea resort. Sochi hopes to use Vancouver's experience to help it stage the games in four years.

In a special ceremony in downtown Vancouver, British Colombia Premier Gordon Campbell signed a cooperation agreement with Dzhambulat Khatuov, the first vice-governor of the Krasnodar Region, which includes Sochi.

The agreement is an Olympic tradition - the host city of the current games agrees to share knowledge and expertise with the next host city. Khatuov said Vancouver has set a high standard for Sochi to imitate.

"And I would like to assure you that your support and assistance, coupled with our effort -- effort of the region at large and the city of Sochi - we will run the 22nd Winter Olympics not simply duly but at the sky-rocket level," said Dzhambulat Khatuov.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson says that his city has run fantastic games, and that he is sad that they have to end. However, he expressed confidence that Sochi will also be a great host.

"It will be hard to let go of these games," said Gregor Robertson. "We are enjoying them so much here. We will savor the remaining days. But I do look forward to handing the flag to his worship. the mayor of Sochi on Sunday."

Vancouver did have to deal with protests before and during the games. Protesters smashed windows and clashed with police and there were some arrests for drunkenness in the huge crowds. Sochi Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov said his aim is that the Olympics will benefit everyone in Sochi.

"The president, the government of the Russian Federation has given us clear instruction to organize the process in such a way that no resident would suffer negative effects of the organization and implementation [of the games]," said Anatoly Pakhomov.

The weather in Vancouver has been warmer than expected, causing some events to be rescheduled - a problem Sochi organizers might also face. The Black Sea resort also has traditionally warm weather, even in winter. Like Vancouver, Sochi is splitting the Olympic events between its downtown and a multi-billion-dollar ski resort being built at Rosa Khutor. Sochi's mayor says the diversity of his city makes it an ideal Winter Olympic host.

"Whilst standing with your two feet in the relatively warm Black Sea in winter, you will see the mountains covered with snow only a few miles away from Sochi," he said. "That's the uniqueness and that's what makes Sochi the unique and best place or the Winter Olympics."

Sochi organizers hired Bernhard Russi, the 1972 Olympic champion downhill skier - who also designed courses for the Winter Olympics in Albertville, Lillehammer, Nagano and Salt Lake City - to oversee construction of the Rosa Khutor resort. The area will host not only Alpine skiing, but also snowboarding, freestyle skiing, biathlon and ski jumping.

The first major event scheduled at Rosa Khutor is the European Cup in 2011. The Vancouver Games end Sunday. The Sochi Games start February 7, 2014 - 1,439 days after the Olympic flame is extinguished in Canada.

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