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'Putin's Dream' for Sochi 2014 Olympics Now Coming Alive

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The Russian resort town of Sochi, the site of the next winter Olympics in 2014, was formerly a sleepy subtropical summer getaway for the Soviet elite and a favorite destination of Russian president Vladimir Putin. But now, the country has poured $33B into transforming the quiet town, sandwiched between the Caucasus Mountains and the Black Sea, into a world-beating destination resort, with hotels aplenty and some appropriately outlandish Olympic architecture, a development that has been a "Putin dream for some time," according to International Olympic Committee chairman Kevan Gosper. A reporter from the Toronto Star recently paid a visit to the city, found not much more than a dusty construction site, and stayed at sprawling, 508-room, Shining-esque luxury hotel where she was the only guest. But if Sochi is boring now, it shouldn't be by the time the games commence, thanks to the products of all that construction.

? The Skiing Center— The downhill skiing sports are some of the most popular events at the Winter Olympics, but up until Russia won the 2014 Games back in 2007, the ski resort at Sochi was the relatively unknown, practically undeveloped mountain of Krasnaya Polyana. That fledgling resort has been consumed by construction since, focused on upgrading the lift system and installing a brand-new replica of a quaint Swiss mountain town, complete with helipads and traditional (read: clichéd) architecture. As almost everything was built from scratch, even the mountains themselves are computer generated in the renderings.

? Jumping Center— Adjacent to the base village, the Jumping Center was originally supposed to include a swooping addition to the central tower, pictured above, but construction delays seem to have caused a streamlining of the design. The new tower is far more square and, well, Soviet-looking, but the 9,600-seat stadium remained unchanged.

? Iceberg Skating Palace— The Russians take their figure skating very seriously, but have chosen the rather jokey title of Iceberg Skating Palace for the $44M main skating venue at the 2014 Olympics. The multi-faceted glass facade conceals a 12,000-seat arena that is set to host both figure- and speed-skating events. Opened in May 2012, the building sits alongside six other major venues at the waterfront heart of the Sochi games, known as the "Coastal Cluster."

? Ice Cube Curling Center— Despite the odd, belittling title, the Ice Cube Center is one of the more grandiose structures ever erected specifically for the sport of curling, with seating for 3,000. Despite the large scale, the entire building, which was completed earlier this year, is designed to be easily dissembled and reassembled for possible use in another Russian city.

? Fisht Olympic Stadium— The Fisht Olympic Stadium is the most dramatically styled Olympic venue, with a curved, semi-circular roof that opens on one end to reveal a pillar topped by the Olympic flame and the Black Sea beyond. Designed by American architecture firm Populous, the stadium is set to be completed by April of next year, with 40,000 seats. The site of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, the Fisht stadium cost an estimated $63.5M to construct.
· DiManno: Sochi going from sleepy to gaudy as Olympics draw near [The Toronto Star]
· Sochi will be one of the great Games of our times: IOC Chairman Kevan Gosper [Box Score News]