With 10 days to go until the Sochi Winter Olympics, we’re reminded that the Olympics represent an undisputed symbol of peak athleticism, entertainment and global cooperation. Also undisputed, however, is that the Olympics are consistently mired in controversy. The level of controversy varies from game to game. It can involve anything from performance-enhancing drugs and corrupt judges to political boycotts and most terrifyingly, assassinations.
The Sochi Winter Olympics are no exception to either end of the spectrum. There have been stories of self-sacrifice and excruciating decisions (Lindsey Vonn’s injury, for one) and ultimately triumph. There have been reports of heightened security and terrorism alerts, of wasted funds and a corrupt political environment.
It would be irresponsible to ignore the controversial political climate of the Sochi Games as it involves the world’s safety. However we must remain hopeful and optimistic that these 16 days will inspire the world.
In the spirit of the Olympic Games, here are some fun and hopefully inspirational facts:
Ralph Lauren once again designed the USA Olympic team uniforms. All of the uniforms were made exclusively in the USA, specifically in Oregon (yarn), Pennsylvania (spinning), North Carolina (material prep) and Los Angeles (assembly line).
We all know that the fourth-place finisher does not get a medal, but he/she does not go home empty-handed. The first eight athletes in each event receive a diploma from the IOC (International Olympics Committee).
Many of the Olympic athletes are multitalented. Vanessa Mae, a world-famous violinist from England, has qualified for giant slalom for Sochi. She will be competing under the name Vanessa Vanakorn (her father’s surname) in order to compete for Thailand. Slovenian alpine skier Tina Maze is a pop star with the hit single “My Way Is My Decision.”
Jamaica qualified for the 2-man bobsled team. Feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme!
Lolo Jones was a hurdler from the London 2012 Olympics. She was favored to win gold but tripped on a hurdle at the second to last jump and ended up finishing seventh. Instead of ending her career there, however, she’s back, but as a member of the US Bobsled team for Sochi! There’s something about bobsled and second chances for track stars.
Note: Biathlon is a 2-event sport where the athletes cross-country ski and rifle shoot.
In true Olympic spirit US biathlete Tracy Barnes has declined her spot on the US biathlon team so that her twin sister, Lanny Barnes, can go in her place. Lanny was sick for the last 3 of the 4 qualifying events so she did not get to compete. Tracy gave up the spot to her sister because she felt that her sister ultimately was having a much better year and was more competitive.
Sochi has found some creative ways to carry the Olympic flame. They’ve integrated a BMX bike and a troika, which is a traditional Russian horse-drawn sled.
The official Sochi Olympic Games tagline is “Hot. Cool. Yours.”
Russia has spent $51 billion on the Olympic Games.
This is an all-time high for any games, summer or winter. It’s 3 times the budget of the 2012 London Games.
The IOC selects cities 7 years in advance. Sochi was selected in 2007 and beat out Salzburg and Pyeongchang.
by Sarah Pernick
Sarah Pernick works at Travel Channel as a production coordinator. She has been obsessed with the Olympics since she first heard the phrase “Feel the Rhythm, Feel the Rhyme!” and hasn’t looked back. You’ll find her donning an Olympic flag toga in a variety of Washington, DC bars for the duration of the games.