Olympic Village Mayor caters to athletes’ needs
As a member of Sochi’s Olympic bid team seven years ago, Russian speed skating champion Svetlana Zhurova told the International Olympic Committee that Sochi could provide the ideal Olympic Village for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. Now she feels a special responsibility to deliver on that pledge in her new role as Mayor of the Mountain Olympic Village. Zhurova is full of enthusiasm for her task.
“I had a big speech about the Olympic Village and the accommodation. I talked about how the athletes would come first”, she said of the commitments she made. “I’d be a liar if it did not come true that the athletes came first.”
Many Olympians consider their time in the Olympic Village one of the highlights of their Olympic experience. US skater Shani Davis expressed his feelings on Twitter, calling the Olympic Village “basically the coolest place on earth.”
The Sochi Games have three Olympic Villages — the Coastal Village for athletes competing at indoor events; the Endurance Village for athletes competing in cross-country and biathlon; and the Mountain Village for athletes competing in all other mountain events. The Mountain Village, the largest of the three, houses about 3,000 athletes and officials.
Each Village is a self-contained community, with shops, dining areas, laundry services, a fitness centre, a library, relaxation areas, a religious centre, banking services and health clinics.
“It has to have to good rooms, with enough space, with good beds, good mattresses and good pillows. Between their competitions, athletes have to get good rest”, she said. “And there has to be good food, not just a lot of food, but delicious food. There has to be good transport.”
Although the Mountain Village is well served by vehicles and ski lifts, Zhurova said some athletes have found other ways to get around.
“I was shocked when I saw athletes going by ski to the ski lift. I said, ‘Hello! We’ve got transport here! What are you doing?’”, she said, laughing. “It’s not really allowed, but they do it. I like that.”
Based on her own experience, Zhurova said one of the best things about staying in the Olympic Village is the ability to interact with athletes from other countries.
“It is a very important part of the Olympic Games, the friendships”, she said. “Here you are for two weeks, together with athletes from different sports and different countries, and famous athletes. I remember my first Olympic Games; I wanted to get a picture with every Olympic champion I could find. After four Olympic Games, I found that younger people wanted to get a picture with me.”
She said serving as an Olympic Village Mayor has given her an opportunity to remember and relive the experiences she had before her transition from Olympic competitor to Olympic spectator.