Sochi 2014 Brings Winter Games Showcase to London
(ATR) Dmitry Chernyshenko, head of the 2014 Winter Olympics organizing committee, says the multi-million dollar Sochi.Park in London is the perfect way to “break stereotypes” about modern Russia.
Reporters gather for the opening of Sochi.Park in Kensington Gardens. (ATR/Panasonic Lumix)
The venue in place in Kensington Gardens includes a pavilion featuring Sochi 2014 exhibits that can accommodate 10,000 visitors and an ice skating arena that is staging daily shows for up to 2,000 people.
Since opening last week, Sochi.Park has attracted thousands of members of the public who have been educated about Russia’s culture and winter sports history and the Black Sea resort’s plans for the Games.
Jean-Claude Killy, the IOC’s watchdog chief for Sochi, and International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel as well as the heads of other international federations have been among the guests.
Chernyshenko said Sochi.Park aims to “demonstrate to the world, to showcase the face of the new modern Russia which is changing a lot.
“I hope the combination of some educational courses and some hi-tech approaches will be the best illustrations of Russia and how we want to show Sochi in 2014.”
He said the mission was “to promote winter sports, which is in the blood of Russians”.
The winter wonderland in the heart of London offers interactive digital experiences, including a 4D chairlift ride up the Krasnodar mountains and a 3D “flight” along a bobsleigh track.
Alexander Zhukov, Dmitry Kozak, Dmitry Chernyshenko watch the 3D film at Sochi.Park. (ATR/Panasonic Lumix)
There’s a film simulating the short train journey from Adler Airport to the Olympic Park on the coast and winter sports games for visitors of all ages. Visitors also get the chance to learn about the specific cultures and traditions of the Krasnodar Region in which Sochi is located.
Some of Russia’s winter sport stars are profiled along with facts and figures on the seven sports that are on the roster of the Sochi 2014 Games. Each of the sponsors, including oil company Rosneft, Sberbank and Megafon get a dedicated space to showcase different aspects of winter sports and their contribution to the Games.
The ice skating arena was the “cream on the cake”, a feature of Sochi’s promotional activities ever since the city won the 2014 bid in Guatemala City five years ago. The ice arena is staging the biggest ice spectacular ever to be staged outside Russia: “Sochi - Small Stories of a Big City”, starring six Olympic and 18 world champion ice skaters including llya Averbukh and Tatiana Navka.
Daily shows also include singers and dancers who have been flown over from Russia to boost Sochi’s image to Londoners.
Russia’s Winter Games organizers originally priced Sochi.Park tickets at $30 for adults with cheaper concessions for youngsters and the disabled.
Those admission fees have since been scrapped in a bid to attract more people to Sochi.Park. Rosneft has pumped in extra funding to offer free entrance to the public.
Before entrance fees were dropped, Chernyshenko said there had been good demand for tickets despite the competitive environment of the London arts and entertainment market. Africa Village is also less than 100 meters away.
Tatyana Navka & Roman Kostomarov, Olympic champions from Torino 2006. (ATR/Panasonic Lumix)
“With the Russian flavor, we have something to attract people to come and enjoy a part of Russia in the heart of Britain,” he said.
Chernyshenko’s belief that preparations are on track is backed by the IOC Coordination Commission for Sochi led by Killy, although there is no time to waste on the fast-track venue and infrastructure makeover.
More pressing for Sochi 2014 leaders and the Russian Olympic Committee is delivering the talent to make the podium at a home Games.
Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko admitted concerns about the country’s lack of winter sports stars to ATR
on the sidelines of the Association of National Olympic Committees meeting in April.
Russia’s disastrous performance at the Vancouver 2010 Games is fresh in the memory. The country’s athletes have also failed to live up to expectations at London 2012.
“Like every country we are very eager to have our team on the podium,” Chernyshenko said.
Dmitry Chernyshenko demonstrates touch-screen navigation at Sochi.Park. (ATR/Panasonic Lumix)
“It’s important also for the Sochi Games that Russia will perform the best to keep the atmosphere and emotion higher.”
He insisted he was not concerned about any repeat of Russia’s 2010 Winter Olympics display.
“It’s not a concern… it’s a big challenge because the result in Vancouver was frustrating for all the nation,” he said. “We know that the government and minister of sport in particular are doing their utmost to prepare a great team in 2014.”
Reported in London by Mark Bisson
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