Russia and the Olympics


Russia is hosting the Olympics Feb. 7-23, 2014 in Sochi on the Black Sea. I just returned from Russia and had the chance to be in Red Square during the rehearsal for the official torch lighting ceremony. The enthusiasm is contagious. The graphics, media and general hoopla surrounding this event is definitely western style.

I am absolutely enamored with the graphics for Sochi. The colors are red, gold and a little blue in a vibrant patchwork pattern. The graphics are versatile, impacting and delightful. The gear for sale is beautifully designed, tasteful and expensive. Our group spent some time in an Olympics shop located in an upscale Moscow mall near Red Square. When I say upscale, I mean there were stores of international designer brands and US label stores. The overt capitalism in Russia surprised me!

In the common area of the mall, was a collection of Olympic torches on loan from His Highness, Prince Albert Grimaldi of Monaco.

On Sunday, Oct. 7th, the official torch lighting ceremony took place. At the time, I was in my hotel room right across the river from the Kremlin just after 4 p.m. Moscow time. I heard the loud sound of helicopters overhead. I ran to my window and threw open the sash — no, it wasn’t Santa, but rather Putin and other high level officials were landing right inside the Kremlin walls! I grabbed my binoculars for a closer look. Black suburban-type vehicles pulled away from the helicopters. Then I turned on the television and saw Putin striding to the podium and soon sharing in the torch lighting ceremony with many athletes.

The vast country of Russia will be canvassed by 14,000 torchbearers. In addition to the traditional runners, the torches will be carried by dog sled and space ship! Officials say the torchbearers will be accessible to 90 per cent of the country’s population; about 130 million Russian citizens are expected to view the Olympic Flame.

Today it is 104 days until the Olympics begin and it is day 20 of the torchbearers run. For continuing updates and the countdown, you can go to the Olympic website,

The relay began with the ceremonial lighting in Olympia, Greece, and traveled to the host country, Russia. The relay of the Flame for the XXII Olympic Winter Games will be seen by the residents of 83 regions of the Russian Federation. The relay will take 123 days and the distance covered will be more than 56,000 kilometers. More than 30,000 volunteers will support the relay. This exercise will demonstrate visually the geographic vastness of Russia.

On the website torch countdown, is a red and white ad that states “Russia meets the Olympic place flame with Coca-Cola.”

If you want to attend the Olympics, one package available includes hotel, a ticket to the Opening Ceremonies, and the ski jumping qualifications, among other things. The cost for this package for two people is $10,477. Air to Sochi from the Dakotas will be over $2000 per person and space is very limited.


Everywhere we went in Russia, the approaching Olympics creates an exciting environment!


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