THE 12 DAYS OF SOCHI PREP

December 22, 2013 • Blogs, Online Content, The Globalist Notebook • Views: 1176

BY CAROLINE WRAY:

Your reading experience will be greatly enhanced if you listen to this.

(TRANSFORMERSTUDIO.RU)

(TRANSFORMERSTUDIO.RU)

 

On the first day of Sochi prep, Russia gave to me endless gay rights controversy. Ever since an “anti-gay propaganda” bill was signed into legislation this past summer, the international community has been ablaze. Gay rights have become arguably the largest issue surrounding Sochi, with celebrities such as Lady Gaga and Elton John publicly speaking out and calling for boycotts. The bill is designed to keep from “gay propaganda” being spread to minors and, like many Russian laws, airs on the vague side, giving it the potential flexibility to suppress essentially any publicly gay activity. Putin insists that it will not infringe on the Olympic experience or suppress gay athletes, but activists and 11 US senators, among countless other people, are indignant.

 

On the second day of Sochi prep, Russia gave to me two billion dollars and endless gay rights controversy. The idea for the Sochi ski resort, Rosa Khutor, began a decade ago, as a relatively small project with a budget of only $200,000. Everything changed when Sochi got the Olympics bid in 2007, when the budget exploded for obvious reasons. Sochi as a location has received a considerable amount of skepticism for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the concern about its size, but the most recent dilemma seems to be its potential for avalanches, which was previously unexplored but is now concerning experts around the world.

 

On the third day of Sochi prep, Russia gave to me a three-man astronaut team, two billion dollars, and endless gay rights controversy. What do you get when you put a Russian, a Japanese, and an American in a spaceship? The Olympic Torch. It has made its first ever trip into open space thanks to the astronauts, who completed the journey in November.

 

On the fourth day of Sochi prep, Russia gave to me a four-time World Cup champion, a three-man astronaut team, two billion dollars, and endless gay rights controversy. Women’s alpine skier Lindsey Vonn is a huge person to watch this February. The reigning downhill women’s champion and four-time overall World Cup winner is hoping to race through a pretty severe knee injury she experienced quite recently. Since the last winter Olympics that made Lindsey an international celebrity, she’s experienced more than one harrowing injury.

 

On the fifth day of Sochi prep, Russia gave to me five miles and Abkhazia, a four-time World Cup champion, a three-man astronaut team, two billion dollars, and endless gay rights controversy. A mere five miles from the edge of charming Sochi Olympic land is the border to Abkhazia, a disputed independent nation with extensive anti-Russian sentiment, and, in the Russian government’s eyes, a terrorist threat, particularly for the Games this February.

 

On the sixth day of Sochi prep, Russia gave to me six years of prep, five miles and Abkhazia, a four-time World Cup champion, a three-man astronaut team, two billion dollars, and endless gay rights controversy. In 2007, Sochi first learned it had received the bid. The last six years have been a whirlwind of construction and expenditures as the small resort town was transformed into an Olympic village prepared to accommodate hundreds of thousands of people. It’s been and continues to be a bumpy road, but it’s been an undeniably impressive transformation.

 

On the seventh day of Sochi prep, Russia gave to me seven nails, six years of prep, five miles and Abkhazia, a four-time World Cup champion, a three-man astronaut team, two billion dollars, and endless gay rights controversy. Artist Pyotr Pavlensky nailed his scrotum—yes—to Red Square in Moscow recently in protest of general suppression and the police state. (I don’t actually know how many nails he used, but it was definitely more than one.)

 

On the eighth day of Sochi prep, Russia gave to me eight saliva samples, seven nails, six years of prep, five miles and Abkhazia, a four-time World Cup champion, a three-man astronaut team, two billion dollars, and endless gay rights controversy. The Dagestan region, about 600 miles from Sochi, is known for Islamic militancy and is plagued with violence surrounding the issue. The terrorist threats stemming from the region have become increasingly worrisome for the Russian government and international community alike, and the government has been collecting saliva samples from fundamentalist Muslim women in the region in order to identify them in the case of suicide bombings—news source al Jazeera reached eight women who confirmed they had been contacted about giving samples.

 

On the ninth day of Sochi prep, Russia gave to me (not quite) nine medals, eight saliva samples, seven nails, six years of prep, five miles and Abkhazia, a four-time World Cup champion, a three-man astronaut team, two billion dollars, and endless gay rights controversy. Speedskater Apolo Anton Ohno was the darling of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, and he’s garnered a total of eight Olympic medals, making him the most decorated US winter-Olympian ever. This year, he’ll be joining NBC’s coverage team instead of skating, so although he won’t be speeding around in that skintight bodysuit, he will still be present on everyone’s TV screen.

 

On the tenth day of Sochi prep, Russia gave to me tens of thousands of security officials, (not quite) nine medals, eight saliva samples, seven nails, six years of prep, five miles and Abkhazia, a four-time World Cup champion, a three-man astronaut team, two billion dollars, and endless gay rights controversy. Luckily (perhaps), in spite of these prevalent terrorist threats, Russia is hardcore stepping up the security measures. The number of security officials employed is double the number from the 2012 London Summer Olympics.

 

On the eleventh day of Sochi prep, Russia gave to me eleven athletic venues, tens of thousands of security officials, (not quite) nine medals, eight saliva samples, seven nails, six years of prep, five miles and Abkhazia, a four-time World Cup champion, a three-man astronaut team, two billion dollars, and endless gay rights controversy. The venues are split up into two categories, mountain and coastal, and each will have an accompanying Olympic village. The theme is accessibility: the two villages are within 30 minutes by train, although the center of the action is the coastal village, where, for the first time ever, all ice skating venues are within walking distance of one another.

 

On the twelfth day of Sochi prep, Russia gave to me twelve new events, eleven athletic venues, tens of thousands of security officials, (not quite) nine medals, eight saliva samples, seven nails, six years of prep, five miles and Abkhazia, a four-time World Cup champion, a three-man astronaut team, two billion dollars, and endless gay rights controversy. On top of everything else, twelve new events have been added to this winter Olympics: men’s and women’s free-skiing half-pipe, free-skiing slope-style, snowboard slope-style, snowboard parallel special slalom, biathlon mixed relay, women’s ski jumping, team figure skating, and luge team relay. This will lengthen the Games and make it the largest in history.

 

Caroline Wray ‘17 is in Jonathan Edwards College. She is a Globalist Notebook blogger on Russia. Contact her at caroline.wray@yale.edu.

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