The Winter Olympic Games in Sochi are approaching; a year separates us from their beginning. And in anticipation of this sports world holiday it is worth remembering how these popular contests came up. In winter 1924, in the French town of Chamonix under the patronage of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), an "International Sports Week" was held dedicated to the upcoming summer Olympic Games VIII. Popularity of the contests, in which athletes from 16 countries were engaged, turned out so great that it was decided to name them the first Winter Olympic Games and conduct them regularly along with the summer and in the same year with them. True, after seven decades, this tradition was broken, and from 1994 the Winter Olympics have followed their own cycle different from the Summer Games, but this of course did not affect their popularity.
With each new White Olympics the number of participants grows, the program expands and a growing number of countries express a desire to host these exciting contests. Their heroes in different years were the famous Norwegian figure skater Sonja Henie, who won three Olympics in succession, the kings of downhill skiing, the Austrian, Toni Sailer and the Frenchman, Jean-Claude Killy, the skaters – "Ural Lightning" Lydia Skoblikova with 6 (!) Gold medals, and the American Eric Heiden, who won the gold medal in all five events in 1980, and many other outstanding athletes.
Soviet athletes made their debut at the Winter Olympics in 1956 in the Italian town of Cortina d'Ampezzo. The debut was more than successful. The USSR team won first place in the unofficial team standings. The winners of the games became skaters Yevgeny Grishin, who won two gold medals, Yuri Mikhailov and Boris Shilkov, skier Lyubov Kozyreva, the Soviet relay race team of skiers and the Soviet national hockey team, led by legendary Vsevolod Bobrov. Glorious pages in the history of White Olympics were written in subsequent years also by our skaters (how not to remember that as far back as 1908 the Russian Nikolai Panin-Kolomenkin won the London Olympic Gold Medal in figure skating, which was then included in the program of Summer Olympic Games), biathlonists, ski jumpers, lugers; and the Soviet national hockey team won in four consecutive Olympic Games from 1964 to 1976.
The Russian national team performs at the Olympic Games, of course, not as successfully as the Soviet team, and it is clear. However, in many of the programs, such as hockey, figure skating, skiing, biathlon, wonderful traditions laid by the older generation continue, and in the upcoming Olympic Games in Sochi, the Russian national team has every reason for the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union to fight for victory in the unofficial team classification, all the more so at home, as you know, even the walls help.
Now both the Russian and the entire world sports community are, of course, concerned about the issue: how are the preparations for the White Olympics in Sochi, will the Russian resort city be able to host these great events with dignity at high level? The answer was given during a recent inspection visit of the IOC Coordination Commission led by its chairman, Jean-Claude Killy. At a press conference on the results of the visit, Killy called the work to prepare for the Sochi Olympics "impeccable". "Athletes will have excellent conditions for competition and accommodation, maybe even the best in the history of the Olympic Winter Games," said Killy. He noted the "significant progress made during the past time in the construction of Olympic venues" and expressed confidence that "everything will be done".
Also Deputy Prime Minister of Russia and Head of the Inter-Ministerial Commission for Sochi 2014, Dmitry Kozak said at a Commission meeting on 1 February that "if it comes to the construction of Olympic facilities, they are either fully completed, and put into operation or are in absolute readiness to host Olympic-level international competitions." "We must now simulate any off-nominal situations, and then they become nominal; the control system, material resources needed to solve any off-nominal situations, have to be worked out," said Kozak. According to him, by the beginning of the Games, Sochi will have modern tourist infrastructure consisting of 42 thousand hotel rooms, 27,000 being newly built and 15,000 existing.
In parallel with the preparation of the Olympic facilities, the selection of volunteers to work at the Games goes at full drive. "More than 115,000 Russians are fighting for the right to become a volunteer assistant for participants and guests of the Olympics," said the President of the Organizing Committee Sochi-2014 Dmitry Chernyshenko - but really we only need 25,000 volunteers." So, he added, there is a very difficult competition, which exceeds the competition at many prestigious universities of the country.
Meanwhile, many foreign athletes have already arrived in Sochi to test future Olympic tracks in advance. Among them is the Olympic champion-2010, Swiss skier Dario Cologna. "It's a very difficult track," he says, "A lot of slopes. Plus mountains, the climate. It takes a lot of stamina to pass it with dignity."
The difficult track runs right through the picturesque mountain ridge on which the biathlon complex is located. The uniqueness of the complex is that cross-country skiing and biathlon competitions can be carried out here simultaneously. Starting and finishing areas are separate, as well as the stadiums for fans. It takes 15 minutes to get from one to the other on foot. And during the Olympics special transport will run between them.
Last weekend on a complex of ski jumps and in the Olympic Park, the cross country skiing World Cup stages took place that became for the athletes a dress rehearsal of the upcoming Olympics. Preparation for it has entered a decisive stage. On February 7, exactly one year before the opening of the Games, tickets sale starts. Those wishing to become owners of a cherished pass to the Olympic stadiums and tracks are so many that, undoubtedly, it will be necessary to solve the problem of a spare ticket, which as a rule is a sine qua non at every White Olympics. Sochi Olympics organizers are making every effort to allow as many as possible citizens and guests of the city to see a thrilling Olympic start. Of course, we want them to be successful for the Russians.