As pre-Olympic trials continue in the Winter Games resort of Sochi, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin held a progress meeting on board a train as a new railway line was unveiled to help take athletes and spectators from the city to the mountains.
When the railway project was first announced in 2007 it seemed really expensive and hard to implement. The transport link was not a requirement of the International Olympic Committee. The new line connects the coastal and mountain clusters of the 2014 Winter Games is now well on its way to becoming an integral part of the Sochi infrastructure.
Eliminating traffic jams during the Olympics is the obvious immediate gain of the 48-kilometre track. But considering the ongoing development of this mountainous region the railway line along with the newly built road will add more appeal to Russia’s Black Sea Resort.
"Eighty-five per cent of the work has been completed and I am pleased to say that it is the result of cooperation between a large team of Russian and international experts from European countries and Canada,” Vladimir Putin stressed.
“The project was not easy from a technical point of view and combining a railway line and a road in one tunnel makes it unique, and will also create opportunities for fully developing the mountain cluster in the future, long after the 2014 Games are over," the Russian President added.
Besides the train ride, Vladimir Putin and company attended the Grand Prix figure skating final, which welcomed the world’s elite at the 12,000-seater Iceberg Skating Palace in Sochi.
Four of five Olympic events were held over the weekend with Russia claiming gold and silver in the pairs skating.Maksim Trankov and his partner Tatiana Volosozhar finished top of the podium in the pairs’ competition.
Reigning Olympic ice dance champions, Canada's Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, settled for silver at the Grand Prix, losing top spot to the runners-up in Vancouver, Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White.The two pairs are the front-runners for gold in Sochi, and testing the ice well in advance has helped boost the confidence of these Olympic hopefuls.
Another figure skating star who came up just short of the Grand Prix gold was America's Ashley Wagner. The 21-year-old lost out to Japan's Mao Asada to take silver, but hopes the Sochi result could be improved, if she makes it to the Olympics.
Less than 500 days are left before the opening of the 2014 Winter Olympics. During this period, hopefully all the plans will come to fruition, and the organizers deliver on their promise, to make the Sochi Games in Russia, the most successful in history.