Click on the extended post to see the video tour of Sochi 2014, President Putin's speech in English and French, pictures, reason to travel Russia, and more
Sochi, Russia's Black Sea Riviera, has won its bid to host the Winter Olympics in 2014. This will be the first time ever Russia will host the winter games. Moscow hosted the Olympics in 1980, when the U.S. boycotted the games to protest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
Sochi has the most expensive real estate in Russia. This statistic should be staggering, considering that Moscow is already 35% more expensive than New York City. The reason is simple -- Sochi is a happy childhood memory for any well-off Russian over the age of twenty. Maria Sharapova, the world famous tennis player, grew up in Sochi and campaigned abroad for the city to host the games. Vladimir Putin loves to ski in Sochi. Russian pop-stars and business executives have vacation homes there, Russian young professionals grew up taking summer trips to Sochi with their parents, and even the author of this post chose to live in Seattle, Washington, because the Pacific Northwest is so much like... Sochi.
Sunset in Sochi
The latter is the best description of Sochi's geography. Imagine a little piece of the Pacific Northwest tucked away at the bottom south-western corner of Russia with its tall snowcapped mountains, fir trees, smell of salt water, sunsets on the Black Sea, and lakes sprinkled between the beach and towering peaks. As President Putin said in his speech to the International Olympic Committee, the ancient Greeks settled near Sochi 2,900 years ago to enjoy this pleasant climate.
Watch the full speech by Vladimir Putin presented in English language
The Olympic Games are always a good reason to improve the infrastructure of the city-host. The City of Vancouver in British Columbia, just two hours north of Seattle, is working hard on its Sea to Sky Highway 99, blasting away rock day and night to widen the road to Whistler. So if one asks "How is Sochi doing with its hotels and roads" the answer is -- there is nothing there yet! There are some nice celebratory banners in the middle of a big field. Most of the hotels are old Soviet designs which were in need of major renovation or replacement a decade ago. There are no good ski lifts and the road system is old and crammed with traffic jams. However, this is one of the reasons Sochi worked so hard to get the games.
According to the Russian Olympic committee, this will be the most modern games the world has ever seen, with state of the art roads, hotels, arenas, ice-rinks, ski lifts, and other facilities -- all within 4.5 miles of each other. The motto for Sochi 2014 is "Gateway to the Future." And talking about roads, President Putin pledged: "No traffic jams, I promise." Putin added that the Russian government will spend 12 billion dollars on the city's infrastructure to prepare the region to host the games. Can all of this work be done in only 7 years? Looking at the transformations which took place in Moscow and St. Petersburg in the last two years, the answer is a definite "yes". It is very important to take a look at the sponsors of these games, to understand that there are serious financial resources backing Putin's promise.
Watch the virtual tour of Sochi in 2014
Gazprom is not listed as one of the games' official sponsors, but last year the company pledged to spend billions of dollars on hotels and resorts in the region. Moreover, quite a few billionaires from the Forbes Russia list, led by the metals tycoon Oleg Deripaska, have stepped forward with their own offers to sponsor the games. Some of the biggest and wealthiest companies in the world are now on the sponsors' list for the Winter Olympiad.
Vladimir Putin skiing
Many news agencies see the Russian victory in a bid for Olympic Games 2014 as a personal victory for Vladimir V. Putin and as further evidence of Russia's resurgence after years of economic and social turmoil. Sochi beat Pyeongchang by just four votes with 51 going to the Russians and 47 to the South Koreans. Pyeongchang had led the first ballot with 36, Sochi followed with 34 and Salzburg went out with only 25 votes. Sochi bid leader Dmitry Chernyshenko told Reuters: "We are happy and satisfied and we owe a huge debt of gratitude to the IOC." Sochi's Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov was overcome with emotion and said simply "happy, happy, only that, happy." According to The Washington Post, overjoyed Russian delegates at the announcement ceremony in Guatemala City hugged and kissed each other.
Russia Today News Channel video of the delegates celebrating Russia's historic victory in Guatemala City
Corporate support of the 2014 Winter Olympiad - even the dairy produce company Wimm-Bill-Dann is helping out...
Excerpt from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
Sochi (Russian: Ð¡Ð¾Ñ‡Ð¸, IPA: ['soÊ¨Éª]) is a Russian resort city, situated in Krasnodar Krai just north of the southern Russian border. It sprawls along the shores of the Black Sea against the background of the snow-capped peaks of the Caucasus Mountains. At 147 km (91 mi), Greater Sochi is the longest city in Europe or the world, depending on one's definition. As of the 2002 Census, it had a population of 328,809, down from 336,514 recorded in the 1989 Census.
Location of Sochi on a map of Russia
From the 6th to the 15th centuries the area successively belonged to the Christian kingdoms of Egrisi and Abkhazia who built a dozen churches within the city limits. The Christian settlements along the coast were destroyed by the invading Gokturks, Khazars, and other nomadic empires whose control of the region was slight. The northern wall of an 11th-century Byzantinesque basilica still stands in the district of Loo.
From the 15th century the coast was controlled by the local mountaineer clans, nominally under the sovereignty of the Ottoman Empire. It was ceded to Russia in 1829 as a result of the Russo-Turkish War.
In 1838, the fort of Alexandria, renamed Navaginsky a year later, was founded at the mouth of the Sochi River to protect the area from Circassian incursions. During the Crimean War the garrison was evacuated from Navaginsky in order to reinforce active forces. The fort was rebuilt in 1864 under the name of Dakhovsky, or Dakhovsky Posad (as it became known in 1874). In 1896, the settlement acquired its present name, derived from the local Sochi River. Town status was granted to Sochi in 1917.
From 1918 to 1919 the town and its environs saw sporadic armed clashes involving the Red Army, White movement forces and the Democratic Republic of Georgia. Sochi was established as a fashionable resort area in the years of the Soviet Union when Joseph Stalin had his favourite dacha built in the city; Stalin's study, complete with a wax statue of the leader, is now open to the public.
Sochi has a surprisingly warm climate for the latitude; winter temperatures rarely fall much below freezing. The average summer high temperature ranges between +26 Â°C (78.8 Â°F) and +32 Â°C (89.6 Â°F) with occasional extreme heat in some interior locations exceeding +40 Â°C (104 Â°F).
View of Sochi from the Black Sea
Existing modern resorts in Sochi
Train station in Sochi
Skiing in Sochi
Russian Olympic Committee head Leonid Tyagachev, left, speaks with President Vladimir Putin during the 119th Session of the International Olympic Committee in Guatemala City, Wednesday, July 4, 2007 (photo by AP)
Download Sochi wallpaper and theme song
Congratulations to Russia and the people of Sochi!