Sport and Society’s Updates

Photos: Sochi, Russia, a Year After the Games

Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons / EEIM | Article Link | by James Hill

A year after the Sochi Olympics, the flags of the competing nations continue to flutter in the breeze rolling in from the Black Sea and oversize cuddly mascots still roam the vast expanse of the Olympic Park’s central plaza, the heart of Russia’s monumental Olympic effort.

Common to the postscript of every Olympics, and especially these Games — the most expensive in history and the focus of new scrutiny about who will ultimately cover their immense costs — lies the difficult task of moving beyond past glories and finding new sports challenges.

Sochi’s most obvious innovation is a Formula One track that now meanders through the Olympic site. Last October, it hosted Russia’s first Grand Prix, won by the world champion Lewis Hamilton.

The Olympic Park is changing in other ways, too. A tennis academy has been established in the Adler Arena, where speed skaters once raced — though the ice can be reformed in little more than a week when needed. And the Fisht stadium, which hosted the opening and closing ceremonies, is being renovated for Russia’s next grand parade on the world’s sports stage, the 2018 World Cup

The other stadiums are adapting to a new, if irregular, existence. The Ice Cube, once home to curling, has started holding concerts. And the Bolshoy Ice Dome has turned into Russia’s principal hockey venue. In late December, the national team triumphed in the international Channel One Cup, bringing Russian hockey fans the victory that proved so elusive at the Olympics.

Up in the mountains, even as the hugely expensive ski jump and bobsled tracks lie quiet, workers were continuing construction on vacation villas in Krasnaya Polyana, part of the continuing effort to make a world-class resort. But as the season started late last year, ski guides and businesses were still waiting for both snow and tourists, hoping that the sudden devaluation of the ruble would divert Russian skiers from the Alps to the Caucasus.