The southern Russian resort city of Sochi will host the Winter Olympics in 16 months, and according to former Olympic ski champ Jean-Claude Killy, it's a safe bet this will be an Olympics for the ages.
In 2014, Sochi will host the first Winter Olympics in the country's history. Sochi used to be a little-known seaside town, but with the massive Olympic preparations, the future of the city itself is under construction.
The benefits and prestige of hosting the Olympics will far outlast the 2014 Winter Games themselves, presenting a unique chance for this region. Every day, more and more people around the world are going to be able to identify Sochi on the map.
“It's very unique,” the 69-year-old Killy told RT. “You have palm trees where the hockey tournament is going to be played. And then just 25 minutes by train, and you have a fabulous ski resort. It's very specific. It's the south of Russia, a very comparable place to say Nice in France, where you can ski in the morning and swim in the afternoon after just one hour car drive. The world will know about it very soon.”
Hosting the Winter Olympics in a southern climate is what makes the Sochi Games so special – and so challenging.
As a three-time Olympic alpine ski champion, and the current the chair of the IOC's Olympic Coordination Commission, Killy is sure winter will arrive as soon as it's needed, despite the fact that this could be the hottest Winter Olympics ever.
“Snow is going to be made whenever it's possible and stored,” he explained. “Today you can store the snow under protection during the summer time. And then use it, for example, for ski jump events. You can use whenever you want or need it. Obviously, that's the lesson from Vancouver we have to learn.”
The Sochi Games will also create some experiences truly unique to Olympic history.
“The Games are going to be the most compact ever,” Killy said. “Most athletes, for example, skiers will go out of the 'Chalet,' put their skis on and go up there. Hockey players will walk to the rink as well as the skaters. Which is incredible! I don't think, we have ever had it before to that extent.”
The Sochi 2014 official slogan was revealed on September 25: 'Hot. Cool. Yours.'
“I think, it's terrific. Absolutely terrific,” Killy said. “It's winter, summer, yours… north, south, snow, ice and yours… I think it's a way to say the rest of the world is welcome to Sochi…‘Yours’ – that's the gift from Russia to the rest of the world.”
And the best present Russia could give the world would be to make their first-ever Winter Olympics into the most memorable Games ever.