When Russia was selected in 2007 to host the upcoming Winter Olympics, the small resort town of Sochi seemed like an unusual choice of host city for the massive country. Now, seven years later, take a look at what Russia has done to transform this coastal town into the stage of the largest Winter Olympics to date.
1. The 2014 Winter Olympics will be the most expensive Games ever. Russia has already spent $51 billion dollars on this year’s Games, surpassing the $40 million dollars that China spent on the much larger 2008 Summer Olympics.
2. The Sochi Olympic complex boasts new hotels in the mountains, newly constructed roads and railways, an Olympic village, two competition "clusters" and 11 world-class arenas. The two-cluster system is a new concept that has required Russian officials to build brand new railway and road systems to accommodate the setup.
3. The 2014 Winter Olympics will welcome 12 new events: biathalon mixed relay, team figure skating, luge team relay, ski halfpipe (men’s and women’s), ski slopestyle (men’s and women’s), snowboard slopestyle (men’s and women’s), snowboard parallel slalom (men’s and women’s) and women’s ski jumping.
4. Sochi, Russia, isn’t the arctic tundra you might expect. The Sochi region is actually a subtropical region of Russia with February temperatures that reached 63 degrees Fahrenheit last year. The Games will likely require massive amounts of man-made snow to be brought in for the events.
5. In 2007, Sochi, Russia, beat out competitors Pyeongchang, South Korea; and Salzburg, Austria; to be the host of the 2014 Winter Games.
6. The 2014 Olympic torch relay will be the longest and most ambitious ever when it ends on February 7. The torch will have traveled for 123 days through Russia’s city streets, through its surrounding countries, to the North Pole and even to space.
7. The 2014 Sochi Olympic medals feature a mosaic quilt with scenes of Russian culture. A record number of about 1,300 medals will be given out this year due to the 12 new events being added. Some Olympic gold medals will even contain fragments of the meteorite that exploded over Chelyabinsk almost a year ago to commemorate the February 15 anniversary of the event. See the entire process of the medal manufacturing here.
8. The snow leopard, hare and polar bear are the official mascots of the 2014 Winter Olympics.
9. This will be the first Team USA trip to the Olympic Games in Russia. The 1980 Summer Olympics were hosted by Moscow, but the US boycotted due to Cold War tensions.
For more reasons to watch this year's winter Olympics, check out the 10 hottest athletes who will be competing. Good luck to our USA competitors!