Figure skaters feel at home in Sochi
The world’s leading figure skaters have revealed their admiration for Sochi’s Iceberg Skating Palace – one of the venues for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games – after they competed in the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final, which was held in the newly-built arena from 6-9 December.
"It's a beautiful arena and the atmosphere here is just fantastic," said Meryl Davis, of the USA, who won the ice dance event with her partner Charlie White. "We've been to Moscow several times but this is our first visit to Sochi. Everything feels great."
"It's a really fantastic atmosphere,” added White. “First of all the Russian fans, no matter where they are in the country, really appreciate figure skating and ice dance, which is tremendous for us. Looking out of my room I have the mountains on the left and the ocean on my right. It just gives you the sense of grandeur and I feel like you kind of take that to the ice."
Reigning Olympic ice dance champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir finished second behind Davis and White, but the Canadians were still impressed by the venue, which will host figure skating and short track speed skating during the 2014 Winter Games.
“The arena looks great, the ice is fantastic," said Virtue. "And the weather is great too, unlike Moscow or St Petersburg, especially this time of the year. Hopefully we will be here for the Olympic Games in a year and a half. So far we are quite happy with everything.”
"For us it's a great privilege to be here so early,” added Moir. “The venue definitely has an Olympic feeling to it. It reminds me a lot of the arena in Vancouver."
Russia’s Yuri Larionov, who finished second alongside partner Vera Bazarova in the pairs event, was also full of praise for the Iceberg Palace.
"It’s the first time we have competed at this arena, the conditions here are very good, and the ice is at the best level,” said the 26-year-old. “We’ve really liked the competition’s organisation. It’s very nice that many other competitions will take place there, including the Olympic Winter Games."
2011 and 2012 World Champian and Olympian Patrick Chan from Canada said: “I feel really good here […]. Every day Kathy (Johnson, his coach) and me, we are going to the water, just watch the waves crushing. I love it, it is so different. It is very calming. I have really good feeling about this place.”
"It was very nice, easy to skate,” said Olympic silver medallist Mao Asada, of Japan, who won the women’s figure skating event in Sochi. “It's beautiful, the arena was beautiful."
The Iceberg Skating Palace, which is located at the heart of the “Coastal Cluster” of venues in Sochi’s Olympic Park, is a moveable venue, making it possible to be dismantled and transported for use as a skating centre in another Russian city after the Games.