|Russia poised to deliver stunning setting for Winter Olympics XXII|
|Friday, January 24, 2014 9:24 PM|
By Cassie Dresch
The snow is falling on a new Olympics as the world’s best athletes all converge on Sochi, Russia for the 22nd edition of the Winter Games.
It’s the first time the Russian Federation will host an Olympic event – the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympics came at a time when Russia was still part of the Soviet Union – and it’s shaping up to be an extravagant, illustrious affair.
Opening with what promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime spectacle at the Fisht Olympic Stadium, the Winter Games officially run from Feb.. 7 through to Feb. 23 and will be broadcast by NBC.
It all started back in 2007, when Sochi defeated Pyeongchang, South Korea (the 2018 Olympic hosts) and Salzburg, Austria for the rights to host the 22nd Winter Games. Since then, an estimated $50 billion has been put into creating an outstanding setting and atmosphere for the 2014 Olympics.
The city of Sochi was first founded about 160 years ago along the coast of the Black Sea and at the foot of the Caucasus Mountains. It’s a popular resort destination year-round with over 200 hotels and plenty of activities to keep tourists busy – from scuba diving and underwater hunting in the sea to skiing and hang-gliding in the mountains, there’s never a dull moment in Sochi.
What makes Sochi so intriguing and a perfect Olympic Games location is its climate. Because the city is sandwiched between warm ocean waters and chilly mountain air, you could be sun tanning on the coast at lunch and be skiing in the mountains by mid-afternoon. Temperatures drop by about 11°F for each half-mile up the mountainside you go, meaning it could be a balmy 75°F on the beach, but at freezing temperatures two miles up.
It’s for these reasons that Sochi will have two venue clusters: the coastal cluster and the mountain cluster. The coastal cluster will feature all of the ice sports including ice hockey, figure skating and speed skating hosted in six arenas, all connected by the Olympic Park down at sea level. Up in the mountain cluster, five venues will be home to many of the downhill sports like snowboarding and luge.
The close proximity of the mountains and the ocean also means that these Games will be the coziest in Winter Olympics history. Both venue clusters are located about 30 minutes away from each other, and it will only take five to 15 minutes to get from the athletes’ Olympic Villages to their respective sporting sites.
Back home in the United States, NBC will have the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics covered from every angle, start to finish. As well as coverage on the main NBC and NBCSN networks, NBCUniversal will use its cable channels to get even more content out to the masses. MSNBC, CNBC and the USA Network will show a combined total of 124 hours of live coverage of curling and ice hockey throughout the Olympics, including many marquee match-ups such as the men’s and women’s curling finals and three Team Canada men’s hockey games.
Headlining NBC’s prime time and late-night Olympic coverage will be Bob Costas, a 25-time Emmy Award winner and prime-time host of every Olympic Games on NBC since 1992.
Costas is no slouch when it comes to sports broadcasting. His 34 years with NBC is the longest of any broadcaster with the peacock network, and he’s dabbled in everything related to sports journalism – he’s served as a reporter, a play-by-play commentator and a studio host. Costas is probably most recognized for hosting the renowned NFL show “Football Night in America,” as well as his work co-hosting the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Horse Racing.
“Bob’s historical perspective and expertise will serve as a foundation for our Sochi coverage both in prime time and late night,” said Executive Producer of NBC Olympics Jim Bell. “There is no one better than Bob to lead us in telling the stories of the athletes and competition that captivate fans around the world.”
For the American athletes, Russia will be a new experience culturally, but the sports will remain the same, and a few names keep cropping up on the world’s Olympic radar.
Two-time gold medalist Shaun White will look to defend his snowboarding halfpipe title when he heads into Sochi, as well as battle the world’s best in the new slopestyle event. He’s a favorite to take home the gold yet again, and he’s looking to add to his already impressive trophy case.
For Meryl Davis and Charlie White, the 2014 Winter Games will hopefully serve as a little retribution. After narrowly losing to their biggest rivals and training partners Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir in Vancouver, the ice dancing pair has gone on quite a tear, bringing home five-straight Grand Prix Final titles, six-straight U.S. National Championship titles and two World Championship titles.
With a beautiful setting, a vibrant culture and a multitude of great talent converging on Sochi, the 22nd Winter Olympics is morphing into an event of a lifetime for athletes and viewers at home alike. Tune into NBC and its affiliates from Feb.. 7 to 23 and cheer on the home team.