2014 Winter Olympics: Bring your umbrella
posted at 8:23 am on February 6, 2013 by Ed Morrissey
Maybe, in retrospect, it was a mistake to award the 2014 Winter Olympics to a place known as “the warmest place in Russia.” Just sayin’:
The Winter Olympics is just one year away, opening Feb. 7, 2014, so perhaps there’s still time for the press people to figure out how to deal with journalists, for hotels to provide WiFi and for the organizers to turn rain into snow.
Yes, it rained here this week — hard — and not just on the subtropical coast where enclosed ice rinks are frozen nicely, but up in the mountains 30 miles away. Oh, and the very top peak above the Roza Khutor resort was closed for fear of avalanche. Skiers and snowboarders coming down from lower elevations, at 4,900 and 3,700 feet, wore raincoats over their parkas. …
Whether it will snow has been an underlying concern of the Olympics, but one that has been brought firmly under government control because President Vladimir Putin, who loves to ski in Sochi, has decided these Games will show the real, modern, vibrant Russia to the world, snow included.
Sochi is the warmest place in Russia, a palm-fringed city that runs 25 miles along the Black Sea. Tuesday morning it was 54 degrees, and the day before it was around 60. Of course it’s colder in the mountains and regularly snows — but regularly enough? That question has been answered in one of Russia’s slogans, “Sochi 2014: Guaranteed Snow.”
Ah, heck, we can watch downhill skiers schussing through the passes in any run-of-the-mill Olympics. Russia will have us watching them slushing instead. That’ll be, er … unique.
As will be the cost:
But snow was dodgy in Vancouver, and life went on. As for Vancouver, a few days ago Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak estimated Sochi will cost $51 billion, far more than Vancouver’s $6 billion. The previous big spender was China, at an estimated $40 billion for the 2008 Summer Games. There’s a lot to build here — this was a dated summer resort with little development in the mountains. Private investors are putting up 20,000 hotel rooms, but expensive roads, tunnels through mountains, railroads, bridges and power plants are also soaking up the rubles.
Shouldn’t this have been something that the IOC considered when choosing this venue? And really, why would any nation want to host this event and spend this kind of fortune on one-off accommodations? Very clearly, Sochi didn’t need any of this infrastructure before the Olympics, and they probably won’t need it afterward, either.