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Games Bring Best And Worst to Light

Published: January 29, 2014 (Issue # 1795)



  • The Bolshoy Ice Dome is part of the complex of facilities operated by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF).
    Photo: sochi2014.com

SOCHI, Russia (AP) If you are flying to Sochi for the Winter Games, book a window seat on the right side of the plane. That way youll get a birds-eye view of how Russia spent $51 billion on gleaming new sports arenas and a cobweb of highways for this southern city on the Black Sea.

Thats the Russia that President Vladimir Putin wants you to see.

Russias bid to host the 2014 Games, which was championed and overseen in the smallest detail by its powerful leader, is supposed to show Russia as a resurgent economy, capable of turning a semi-obscure seaside resort filled with cheesy bars into an international vacation magnet.

All Sochi needs now is some visitors.

All the indoor venues for the Winter Games are tucked into a compact Olympic park next to the Black Sea. The outdoor venues in the mountains are about 45 minutes away on a brand new squeaky-clean train. Athletes, Olympic delegations, journalists and spectators on the day of the event all have free train tickets.

You may also be interested in: A Crumbling Sochi Hides Behind Olympic Facades

Visitors to test events that Sochi hosted last year were pleasantly surprised by the army of young volunteers who spoke good English and were eager to help. Expect to see them inside the Olympic bubble as well as at Sochis upgraded airport and train stations.

Olympic Games these days all have stringent security checks and Sochi even more so since an Islamic insurgency is raging just a few hundred kilometers away. Railway stations are circled by temporary fencing and all visitors reach venues through a security zone where they face an airport-like body search and an examination of their bags. Trains are patrolled by policemen who walk down the aisles throughout the journey.

The Olympic venues are all built some have been operational for a year but workers are still busy with finishing touches such as landscaping and road paving. Some of their recent work appears makeshift and hasty: palm trees in the middle of a traffic roundabout were clearly withering away with no grass around them, just fake pine needles.

You may also be interested in: VIDEO: Medvedev Takes to CNN to Reassure Sochi Security Fears

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Times Talk

ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Apr. 17


Expocenter Eurasia at 13 Ulitsa Kapitan Voronin is the sight of Goods on the Way, a five-day event starting today showcasing the latest in the industrial products industry. Bags, backpacks, swimsuits and much, much more will be available to attendees hoping to update not only their style but their accessories for the upcoming summer.


Friday, Apr. 18


Teachers and students alike shouldnt miss the opportunity to establish lasting contacts with Russian and foreign institutions during the 21st Education and Career Fair at LenExpo, beginning today and finishing tomorrow. Learn more about education in Russia and connect with your fellow scholars.


The Tromso International Film Festival, Norways largest, brings a short festival to St. Petersburg for one day only during Scandinavian Oddities, starting at 7 p.m. today at Rodina Cinema Center. Tickets for the event are 100 rubles ($2.80).


Sunday, Apr. 20


Celebrate Easter at Pavlovsk during the Easter Fair that begins today and continues through next Sunday. Visitors will have the chance to paint Easter eggs and children can take part in games as well as help decorate a tree in honor of Christianitys holiest day.


Today is one of the final days to see the exhibit Cacti Children of the Sun at the Peter the Great Botanical Garden. Starting Apr. 17, budding botanists will marvel at the variety and beauty of the deserts most iconic plant.


Monday, Apr. 21


Improve your grasp of Neruda, Bolano and Marquez at TrueDAs Beginners Spanish Lesson this evening at their location on the Petrograd Side. An experienced teacher will be on hand to help all attendees better understand the intricacies of the language and improve their accent.


Tuesday, Apr. 22


SPIBAs Breakfast with the Director event series continues as the association welcomes Andrei Barannikov, general director of SPN Communications, to the Anna Pavlova Hall of the Angleterre Hotel this morning at 9 a.m. Attendees must confirm their participation by Apr. 21.


The AmCham Environment, Health and Safety Committee Meeting is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. this morning in the their St. Petersburg office.