January 12, 2014
Organizers of the 2014 Winter Olympics have built from the ground up, literally.
Unlike many previous cities, Sochi, a Black Sea town not far from Russia's border with Georgia, had no set of stadiums to expand. The last Winter Olympics, in Vancouver, Canada, in 2010, utilized some venues that had been around for awhile and built only two new facilities, one for curling and the other for long-track speed skating. Sochi, on the other hand, has built new.
The site of the Opening Ceremonies, Closing Ceremonies, and medal presentations will be Fisht Olympic Stadium (right), in what is known as the Coastal Cluster, a grouping of venues in and around Sochi. The 40,000-seat stadium was designed to allow those seated inside to have views to the south of the Black Sea and to the north of the mountains, one of which is Fisht Mountain. One of five new venues within walking distance of one another, Fisht Stadium sits atop a tall hill, in Adler Olympic Park, near Adler Arena. Nearby are twin 12,000-capacity venues, the Bolshoy Ice Dome, home to ice hockey, and the Iceberg Skating Palace, which will house figure skating and short-track speed skating.
Northeast of Sochi 30 miles is the Mountain Cluster of venues, near the cities of Estosakod and Krasnaya Polyana. Organizers built five new venues for alpine events.
In all, Sochi organizers have built 11 new venues. (Organizers of the much larger 2012 Summer Olympics, in London, built 20 new stadiums and venues.)
Other, smaller venues dot the Black Sea coast as well.
The Olympic Torch was lit in Olympica, Greece, on September 29, 2013, and then passed to the first torchbearer, Greek alpine skier Giannis Antonious, who handed off to celebrated Russian ice hockey player Alexander Ovechkin. The Torch is winding its way through 136 locations throughout Russia and will arrive in time for the Opening Ceremones, on February 7.