News / Europe

Russia Promises a Snowy Sochi 2014

Russians Worry About Snowi
X
April 05, 2013 10:33 AM
Call it climate change, or just wacky weather. One year before the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, rain fell in the mountains that are to host the ski and snowboarding events next February, making Russians nervous about how the games will pan out. Jim Brooke reports.
Russians Worry About Snow - (A. Malloy)
James Brooke
Russia chose one of its southernmost cities — subtropical Sochi — as its nominee for next year's Winter Olympics. Wowed by images of deep snow in the Caucasus Mountains, the International Olympic Committee voted yes — ahead of Salzburg, Austria, and Pyeongchang, South Korea.
 
Six years after winning the bid for hockey and figure skating events, everything is, as Russians say, “pod kontrolem,” or "under control." Enclosed rinks and ice-making technology guarantee indoor ice on Russia's Black Sea Coast, a balmy land where palms trees grow.
 
Less than an hour's drive away in the Caucasus, where temperatures are far colder than in Sochi, this winter's snowfall was erratic. On Feb. 7, exactly one year before the Olympics are scheduled to open, rain fell, temperatures rose to 19 degrees Celsius, and skiing and snowboarding events were cancelled.
 
The base of the Rosa Khutor resort, the downhill ski venue, was not snow white, but dirt brown.
 
“It’s too warm — it’s 15 degrees,” said Ksenia, a competitive Russian skier, as light rain started falling on the resort. “A couple of days ago, it was 23 degrees over there. Two days ago, like yesterday and today, it was raining, and snow was disappearing.”
 
Stanislav Lopane, a skiing coach from St. Petersburg in northern Russia, had enjoyed the snow conditions at the very top of the mountain, but still he was worried.
 
“This is the subtropics. It’s a risk to have the Olympics here — a definite risk,” he said while cradling his skis, wet from rain. “I think the government is prepared for it. I don’t know how they will manage it. Perhaps they could transport snow with helicopters if there’s not enough.”

  • Krasnaya Polana, or ‘beautiful meadow’, is the gateway to the Caucasus Mountain ski and snowboard venues for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. (V. Undritz for VOA)
  • This highway suspension bridge is part of an $8 billion road and link designed to transport Olympics attendees between the skating venues on the Black Sea coast and the snow venues in the Caucasus Mountains. (V. Undritz for VOA)
  • Once tranquil mountain villages are being transformed by the massive construction of Olympic housing. High rises are to become hotels and condominiums for vacationers after the games. (V. Undritz for VOA)
  • Russians hope that their world-class ski resorts will become part of the legacy of the Olympics. (V. Undritz for VOA)
  • At the base of the brand new Rosa Khutor ski area, a faux Alpine village has been built in the last 1,000 days, complete with a German-style “Rathaus” or town hall. (V. Undritz for VOA)
  • Visitors study the ski trail map of Rosa Khutor, which suffered from erratic snow cover and rain in February and March of this year. (V. Undritz for VOA)
  • A brand new European-made gondola carries skiers to upper slopes. (V. Undritz for VOA)
  • Poor weather – high winds and lack of snow – forced organizers to cancel a cross country event. (V. Undritz for VOA)
  • Maslenitsa doll awaits her fate with ski at the Rosa Khutor resort. (V. Undritz for VOA)
  • In a pre-Lenten festival, Russians dance around the Maslenitsa doll. (V. Undritz for VOA)
  • The Maslenitsa figure burns as Russians celebrate the end of winter. (V. Undritz for VOA)
  • The Rosa Khutor base village at night, where developers have sought to create the night life found in European and American mountain resorts. (V. Undritz for VOA)
  • The Olympic ski jump rises from the mountain mists above Sochi. The jump’s price tag: $265 million. (V. Undritz for VOA)
  • Diggers carve a mountain valley for a road and rail link from the Black Sea Coast. It is unclear if restoration of the landscape will be completed in time for the Feb. 2014 Olympics. (V. Undritz for VOA)
  • The concrete pylons of a railroad bridge through the once clear waters of the Mzimta River. Once a magnet for rafters and spawning salmon, the river is now brown and routed through many concrete channels. (V. Undritz for VOA)

To guarantee snow, Sochi organizers have installed 444 snowmaking guns like the ones used in Whistler, Canada, site of the ski and snowboarding events at the 2010 Winter Games.
 
Also, high up in the mountains workers have been bulldozing snow into huge piles for storage if needed next winter. The snow is being covered by an isothermal fabric that keeps heat off by reflecting the sun's rays. When the job is completed in mid-April, there should be enough to fill 200 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
 
Sochi Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov told reporters that the Olympic show will go on — with snow guaranteed.
 
"We will make conclusions based on our experience of holding test competitions, including conclusions about the weather, if the temperature will be plus 10,” he said. “All that will be taken into account, and obviously the Olympic Games will be held according to a proper standard."
 
Up in the mountains, rained-out skiers danced and sang in early March for Maslenitsa, Russia’s pre-Lenten festival.
 
But it could well have been a pagan prayer for snow.

You May Like

Multimedia Obama, Modi Break Nuclear Deal Deadlock

Impasse over liability issues had been stalling bilateral civilian nuclear cooperation; deal reached at start of US president's three-day visit to India More

WHO's Late Efforts in Tackling Ebola Highlight Need for Reform

Health experts debate measures to reform agency’s response to global public health emergencies in special one-day session on deadly outbreak More

One Tumultuous Year in Power for CAR's President

As sectarian violence raged across Central African Republic, interim President Catherine Samba-Panza has Herculean task: to end civil war and put country back on right track More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Gennady from: Russia, Volga Region
April 04, 2013 9:27 PM
With global warming high up on the world’s agenda, it was certain from the very beginning the absurdity of the idea – to host Winter Olympic Games in undeveloped sleepy subtropical town of Sochi with fragile ecosystem and Caucasian separatists waging their war just round the corner. The ridiculous project for two weeks sporting event has already cost 50 bln $, 6-8 times over the budget at the peak of the global recession with Russia’s economy watching its contraction. Isn’t it bizarre?

Please, don’t forget that it is an impoverished country (90% population) with 1) empty budget reserves, 2) with substandard highway network (when even Moscow drowns in mud and slash every spring), 3) with healthcare, education and science fit for the third world. It couldn’t have happened anywhere in the world with the rule of the Constitution and observance of basic human rights, with proper lawmakers and judicial system, with an independent mass media.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid