Where Stalin used to come for good weather, is now a candidate city for the Winter Olympics 2014. But how on earth can they be serious about getting the Olympics in Sochi?
We arrived only a week after the International Olympic Committee had inspected Sochi, and there was no doubt about the ambition. Posters and big signs everywhere. “Here we will build a massive hotel”, “This will be the site of an enormous ski jump” and so on. But today there is nothing. Except for the new terminal at the airport where the Olympic committee landed (conveniently opened for them, but still closed for us) nothing is built yet. There are only plans.
And there is one more snatch. It’s hot! Or at least mild. The long and thin city is located on the shores of the Black sea. When we arrived in the first weekend of March there were no traces of snow in Sochi. But of course, the venues are supposed to be built in the mountains surrounding Sochi. The area called Krasnaya Polyana will be the centre of development.
So we decided to try the slopes. There was no snow on the ground in the mountains either. But near the single (there was only one) open ski lift the snow/mud was up to our knees. Yes, skiing was wet. Not exactly Olympic conditions. But the most funny (or scary) part was all the drunk Russians, who did not know how to ski. At all the little cafes along the slopes they sold vodka – and lots of it. And the Russians apparently drink while skiing, unlike Norwegians, who (elegantly) usually only get pissed at the after-ski party (when they are done skiing). So skiing in Sochi is a dangerous activity.
Although the Russians are good at pulling off big events, Sochi is probably a better summer destination (it’s actually quite nice). It certainly is no substitute for the Alps.