2014 Sochi Winter Olympics Preview

winter olympicsOn February 6, 2014, the XXII Olympic Winter Games will kick off in Sochi, Russia, marking the first time since 1980’s Moscow Summer Olympics that Russia will host the Games. Located in Russia’s third-largest region, Krasnodar, Sochi boasts a population of 400,000 strong. In 2006, this coastal city in southwestern Russia was first nominated by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for consideration as an Olympic venue and squeezed through the second round of voting to win the bid on July 4, 2007 against Salzburg, Austria, and Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Event locations
The different events will be broken up into a “coastal cluster” and a “mountain cluster.” The coastal cluster events will feature ice-related events and be held in Sochi, where the Main Olympic Village and the International Broadcast Centre and Main Press Centre will also be located. The Black Sea coast in the Imeretinskaya Valley will be home to the Sochi Olympic Park. However, newly built facilities such as the Bolshoi Ice Palace, the Olympic Oval, the Olympic Curling Centre, the Maly Ice Palace, the Sochi Olympic Skating Centre, and Olympic Curling Centre, will hold all ice events.

The mountain cluster, which holds all skiing and sliding events, will be in the Krasnaya Polyana Mountains. These mountains will also hold a sub-village for the athletes and a sub-media center. Considering that these two locations are only about 30 minutes apart by car, and that all the events will be held in only these two locations, the Sochi Winter Olympics are poised to be one of the most transportation-friendly Olympics Games ever.

Olympic torch
The Olympic Torch Relay always precedes each Olympic Opening Ceremony, and started its 123-day, 35,000 mile journey to Central Stadium in Sochi when it arrived in Moscow from Greece on October 7, 2013. People as young as age 14 to as old as age 93 were among the 14,000 torchbearers who were recruited to carry the Olympic flame across the former Soviet Union. Prominent figures who were appointed as torchbearers include three-time synchronized swimming Olympic champ Maria Kiseleva, the first female in space Valentina Tereshkova, and four-time gymnastics Olympic gold medalist Alexei Nemov.

2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics medal recap
With Russia only earning sixth place in 2010 with a relatively meager 15 medals, they will try to come out with everything that they can muster this time around, especially now that everyone will be on their home turf. 2010’s host country, Canada, won the largest amount of Olympic medals in their Olympic history after registering 26 medals, which was good enough to tie with Germany and stand only behind the United States (37). Canada also set the all-time Winter Olympics record for all countries in gold medals earned during one Olympics (14) in 2010.

Dates and events
The Opening Ceremony will take place on February 7, but the Sochi Games will actually start on February 6 and the Closing Ceremony will end it all on February 23, when Pyeongchang, South Korea receives the Olympic flag to host the XXIII Olympic Winter Games in 2018. Competition will continue though, as the XI Paralympic Winter Games will occur on March 7-16. Of the 15 sports put on display in the XXII Sochi Olympic Winter Games, the 5 ice events are ice hockey, speed skating, short track, figure skating and curling. The other ten mountain events are the biathlon, cross-country, ski jumping, Nordic combined, alpine skiing, freestyle skiing, snowboarding, bobsledding, skeleton and the luge.

Americans to watch for:
Mikaela Shiffrin, Skiing:
Lindsey Vonn’s injury paves the way for Shiffrin to become a star in February. The 18-year old was the second-youngest American to win the World Cup alpine event at age 17 in 2012. Also has five World Cup race wins under her belt since the start of the 2013 season, and she keeps improving.

Max Aaron, Figure Skating:
The 21-year-old skater won the U.S. Championship and Southwest Regional in the junior division 3 years ago. He has since won another U.S. Championship and two International U.S. Classic competitions.

Ashley Wagner, Figure Skating:
The best American female figure skater is the reigning two-time winner of the U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

Shaun White, Snowboard
The two-time reigning champ of this event has returned to dominate again. White received a perfect score at the half-pipe in 2012’s Winter X Games and owns 8 X Games gold medals in this event to show his mastery of the sport.

Heather Richardson, Speedskating:
The sprint-distance 2013 world champion will look to win numerous medals in Sochi after not winning anything in Vancouver.

Sarah Hendrickson, Ski Jumping:
Hendrickson already has 13 World Cup wins at the ripe old age of 19. Offseason knee surgery was supposed to slow her down before the 2013 season, but she came back and immediately won the World Ski Championship, no big deal.

No matter what sport you are looking forward to watching in Sochi, be sure to show your support for the U.S.A. and enjoy the competition taking place on the grandest stage in sports!

Jonathan Ebanks is an avid sports fan who doubles as a freelance writer/editor and as a financial analyst for the Law Offices of Krupnick Campbell Malone.

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