Russia’s Winter Triumph
A sport intern special report from David Miller in Krasnoya Polyana
The Germans know a thing or two about Winter Olympics. At their mountain HQ their team is wide-eyed in admiration for what Russia has created, in only seven years, on this glorious, previously virgin “Red Glade” range of soaring peaks.
Walther Troeger, IOC honorary member and one of the master-minds behind Munich’72, is euphoric. “Our team says that this is the best they have seen, what Russia has done is beyond praise.” This is a view that is almost uniform.” Outstanding, wonderful”, according to Spyros Capralos, chairman of Athens’04. “Phenomenal” reports Michael Payne, former adroit director of IOC marketing.
“This is a legacy for decades to come” reflects Anita DeFrantz, bronze US oarswoman in 1976 and current IOC Executive Board member. “Expensive? Fifty billion dollars is what you have to spend to establish not merely an entirely new winter sports center but a comprehensively redeveloped civic region.”
Russia’s rank and file are thriving on this global celebration within their little known south east Caucasus resort on the Black Sea. Every day I travel the sixteen kilometers each way on the new electric railway between central Sochi and the Adler suburb, where the uniquely compact indoor Olympic complex is sited. Since Friday evening’s Opening Ceremony the trains have been as crowded with expectant fans, young and old, as London’s metro eighteen months ago. My youngest fellow traveler has been a nine-year-old dreaming of a Russian ice-hockey gold medal.
This story was originally written in the Sport Intern and is republished with permission from Karl-Heinz Huba.