SOCHI - Sochi 2014 will be the first time that Russia will host the Olympic Winter Games, and preparations are well underway to get this Black Sea port ready to welcome the world.
Members of the IIHF Facility Committee, led by chairman and IIHF Vice-President Kalervo Kummola, recently attended a meeting in Sochi that included a tour of the Olympic sites. Of particular interest was the Bolshoi Ice Dome, the main hockey venue for the Games.
“It was amazing,” said IIHF Facility Committee secretary and IIHF Event Development Director Cornelia Ljungberg, “It was half-done, there’s still work to do on the inside, but on the outside it looks quite ready and the plaza in front was impressive.”
The 12,000-seat arena is scheduled to be completed in September, The design of the Bolshoi Ice Dome is based on the image of a frozen drop, and will be principally silver once complete. Following the Games, it will serve as a multi-purpose sports and entertainment centre.
For the first time, the IIHF can publish photos of the arena’s interior where the rink and tribunes can be clearly identified (see above).
The first test events that have been announced for the arena will be the Eurohockey tour (December, 2012) and the IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship (April, 2013).
“This was a very encouraging visit as we are very confident that not only will everything be ready for the Olympics, but the main hockey venue will be ready for hockey one year ahead of the Olympic tournament,” said Kalervo Kummola.
55,000 workers have been employed on what’s been labelled the world’s biggest construction site. Russia has had to build all the stadiums and infrastructure from scratch in a seven-year, $30 billion project, making Sochi 2014 the most expensive Winter Games in history.
“It’s incredible how many people were working on the sites, even on Saturday and Sunday and also during nighttime," said Ljungberg.
The entire Olympic infrastructure is the most compact in the history of the event, with a mountain cluster for skiing and sliding events and a coastal cluster just 40 kilometres apart. The Bolshoi arena will be located in the coastal cluster, among other features such as the Olympic Park.
The Park will connect up all competition venues for ice hockey, skating, and curling, and also includes the Central Stadium, which will host the opening and closing ceremony and will also serve as a football arena for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. An upcoming F1 track that will run through the entire site is also in the works.