Country-wide celebrations took place across Russia today, as the hosts of the XXII Olympic Winter Games marked the milestone of 500 days to go until Sochi 2014.
A host of sports and music events tool place in 17 Russian cities, with the main attraction being an all-Russia national flashmob consisting of more than 12,000 Sochi 2014 volunteers drawn from the 26 Volunteer Centres. The volunteers participated in the construction of giant Olympic pictograms in squares, stadiums and indoor sports complexes of the various cities, having collected a total of all 22 images of Olympic sports.
Each pictogram was made using square blue-white shields that the volunteers held above their heads, turning around and combining them on the command of the event director. The largest-scale flashmob was held in Krasnodar, where 2,000 Sochi 2014 volunteers formed five pictograms on Theater Square: ‘Bobsleigh’, ‘Skeleton’, ‘Cross-country skiing’, ‘Freestyle cross-country skiing’ and ‘Ski Jumping’.
As well as the flashmob performances, each of the cities held a symbolic 500 metre relay representing one of the winter Olympic sports. The idea was the winning entry submitted to the All-Russian Contest "Scenario for a city event: 500 days to the Games", by Margarita Zharkova and Andrei Botsulko from the Sochi 2014 Volunteer Training Center at the Kuban State Technological University.
In Moscow, the relay represented ice hockey with participants completing the event in hockey helmets on roller blades, while in Sochi – the host city – participants demonstrated snowboarding by covering a set distance on skateboards.
The President of the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee, Dmitry Chernyshenko, said: “We have reached another significant milestone: there are now only 500 days remaining until the XXII Olympic Winter Games. In fact, we have entered the finishing straight in our preparations for this extremely important event in Russia's history. I'm glad that this celebration has managed to involve, both in terms of spectacle and the scale, the whole country into Games preparations.”