Athletes settle in to village life
Athletes have been settling into the comfortable surroundings of Sochi’s three Olympic Villages, as they prepare to compete in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. Approximately 2,800 athletes will be housed in the Coastal Village, Mountain Village and Endurance Village during the Games, which run from 7-23 February.
Residents at each of the villages will have access to a canteen, a medical clinic, fitness centre, multi-religious centre, library, bank, cafes, a club and shops, with all facilities located within walking distance of the residential area. Transport connections are also available within the villages and from the villages to the competition venues, 24 hours a day.
And those athletes who have already arrived seem to be impressed with the facilities on offer. "The people have been really nice and the rooms are really good,” said British short track medal hope Elise Christie. “It's luxury for us short-trackers, really."
The villages have been designed to look completely different in style and colour, with each village featuring a different concept.
The Coastal Village, for instance, reflects the “pride of Russia” and celebrates the country’s excellence in music, ballet, literature, art, science and space. The design philosophy of the Endurance Village, meanwhile, evokes “the fairy tales of Russia” and is decorated with popular folk characters such as Baba Yaga, Firebird, Ilya Muromets, Sadko, Ivan the Fool and the Gray Wolf.
Russia’s Olympic speed skating champion Svetlana Zhurova, who won 500m gold in Turin in 2006, is the mayor of the Mountain Village and believes that the athletes will never forget the experience of living with their fellow athletes during the Games.
"When I came to my first Olympic Games in Lillehammer, I remember this [the village] first," she said. "I remember what my feeling was. Now, I say to athletes that will be at the Games for the first time, that they will surely remember this for the rest of their life."
Zhurova’s vice-mayor is four-time Olympic gymnastics gold medallist Alexei Nemov – one of Russia's most decorated Olympians of all time. Like Zhurova, the 37-year-old has fond memories of village life.
"I participated in the Olympic Games three times and the villages became a home away from home," he said. "I made many friends there and even though some of us didn't speak English, we all congratulated each other.”
As more athletes arrive in Sochi ahead of the Winter Games, they will soon discover their own “home away from home” in the comfortable surroundings of Sochi’s three unique Olympic Villages.