Awarding the Winter Olympics to a city with a subtropical climate, scant winter sports facilities, proximity to restive ethnic republics and a global recognition factor of zero was, if nothing else, a bold move. Vladimir Putin's assurances of a compact Games (mountain and coastal venues 30 minutes apart), ample snow and all-new facilities swayed the IOC. Now comes the test. Few visitors may opt to sightsee in a city under terrorist threat, but the IOC can still hope that Sochi's famed Friendship Tree, a grafting experiment that produces 45 types of citrus fruit, can yet become the unlikely symbol of these improbable Olympics.
This is an article from the Feb. 3, 2014 issue
FISHT OLYMPIC STADIUM | The $600 million, 40,000-seat roofed arena (named for a mountain in the Caucasus) will host ceremonies and anchor the Olympic Park cluster in Adler; in 2018 it will serve as a World Cup soccer venue.
BOLSHOI ICE DOME | NHLers and 38,000 colored LED roof lights will light up the site of the hockey finals.
ICEBERG PALACE | Icy blue glass panels give this figure skating and short-track speedskating venue its name.
PROTEST ZONE | No critical placards or gatherings are allowed except in a designated park in isolated Khosta. A Russian government permit also will be required.
MOSQUITO FISH STATUE | Tribute to a tiny species introduced in the 1920s to eat mosquito larvae and end the then-swampy city's rampant malaria.
WAX STALIN | Figure can be viewed at the 5'4" dictator's favorite dacha, open to tourists.
SANKI SLIDING CENTER | To avoid a repeat of the 2010 Games, when Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili suffered a fatal crash, the track has two uphill sections to slow sledders.
RUSSKI GORKI SKI JUMP | Women's event will debut at a venue plagued by mudslides and construction problems.
ROSA KHUTOR | Ten Alpine gold medals will be won on the Bernhard Russi-designed courses (top altitude: 7,600 feet) at this $2.2 billion resort; extreme sports will be held nearby.
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