Olympic Preview: 5 Things to Watch for in Sochi

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The Olympics are the ultimate in sports as the summer and winter Olympics are always some of the most popular sporting events every four years. The Summer Olympics are some of the most popular events ever as the world watches every four years and the entire world seems to shut down while the games are going on. The Winter Olympics are smaller and less popular than the summer version but they are a still a major sporting event. The Winter Olympics are not as big or as popular because there are less counties participating in the games. The winter Olympics are unique in the fact that the sports are very specific to the region anyone is living as many countries do not have the cold weather that is needed to train in many of these sports. As disappointing as less countries may be the winter games allow a different set of countries to take control. Instead of the usual countries that dominate different sports in the Summer Olympics the winter Olympics see a number of other countries take over the dominance of sports. The winter version of the Olympics also provides plenty of sports that are rarely seen and make the Winter Olympics one of the most unique sporting events every four years. Sports like ski jumping, speed skating, luge, and many more will all take focus this year as the Winter Olympics return and will dominate the sports conversation for two weeks in February. This year the Olympics will go deep into Russia as the IOC continues to move their operations to new places. Russia will host the Winter Olympics for the first time ever since the Winter Olympics started in 1924. The Winter Olympic powerhouse has never hosted the games before and they are taking this opportunity to show what they can do. The Olympics has made a habit of awarding the Olympics to countries that may not be the best fit for many reasons. Russia is one of these countries where the Olympics is taking a risk. There are plenty of issues in Russia, the least of which is the fact that the host city is known as a summer resort town and nowhere near a winter wonderland. Russia will have to show that they are ready to take a step into the limelight of the world as they lead the way for cities like Rio de Janeiro in 2016 and Pyeongchang, South Korea in 2018. All of these countries will be looking to a very controversial decision to allow Russia to host to see what they need to do and what they need to avoid heading into their Olympic Games. Russia will have a lot to prove this year and the world will be watching as the Winter Olympics are coming and the sports world will pause as another Olympic Games takes over the world.

 

X-Games to Olympic Games

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The Winter Olympics are not as popular as the Summer Olympics and they have less sports to watch. Many of the sports are not the most exciting to watch either as only a few people can watch hours of figure skating, curling, Biathlon, cross-country skiing, or any number of the events. The IOC is looking to change this though and they are doing so in a big way that is very much unlike the IOC. The Olympic Committee is not necessarily known for their ability to change quickly but over the last decade they have done just that. The Olympics have looked to another international games that only started 1997. The X-Games were made to be an almost alternative to the stuffy Olympic Games as they would highlight the new extreme sports that were beginning to evolve in the 1990s. The X-Games would feature fringe sports but sports that got people excited. Big air, big tricks, and insane feats were the calling cards of the X-Games and slowly but surely it would begin to evolve. Superstars were created and the Olympics began to recognize that there were sports that people were getting excited about. In 1998 the Olympics would add the snowboard halfpipe to their program but would continue to evolve from there. The X-Games would continually evolve and create more disciplines that got people interested and the Olympics would follow suit. In 2014 the Olympics will be taking another step towards integrating these exciting sports when they introduce Skicross along with Slopestyle to the Olympic program. It is much easier to announce new sports in the winter Olympics as the IOC continues to grow the Winter Olympics to the level of the Summer Olympics. These new sports are straight out of the X-Games and were created fairly recently but will make their debut along with the halfpipe and snowboard cross as an evolution to the Olympic program. It is good news for fans of the Winter Olympics as these new sports are some of the most exciting sports that anyone will see and for many people it will be the first time they will ever get to see these events. It is what the Olympics need and what will make the Winter Olympics much more popular as they continue to look for inspiration from outside of the traditional sports world to continue to help excite Olympic fans.

 

Advancing the Cause

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Russian is not a country known for being one of the most progressive in the world, especially when it comes to human rights. So it seems a little strange to many that a fight that has been going for the better part of the last decade will finally be solved in Russia. Ski Jumping in the Olympics has been there from the start but it was always a men’s only sport. As the 2000s rolled around though a growing number of women would take an interest in the sport and would begin a fight to gain some place to play. The handful of women in Ski Jumping would begin to launch a campaign to make Women’s Ski Jumping an official Olympic event. The first bump in the road as to make it an official championship in the FIS calendar and they would accomplish that with the first World Championship in 2009. With the backing of an international federation the members of women’s ski jumping teams would look to the 2010 Vancouver Olympics to be their debut on a major stage. The IOC would rule against letting women’s ski jumping into the Olympics for 2010 as they would claim that there was simply not enough competition. To many that excuse would not flay as there was not a lot of women participating but there was more than enough to make the Olympics. It would be one of the more controversial moments of the Vancouver Olympics as the women in Ski Jumping would be put on the sidelines for another year. Then they would begin their battle once again for Sochi and this time they would get what they were seeking. The women would get a spot in the Olympic program for the Sochi Olympics in what seemed like the least likely country to make their debut. After years of struggling to get their sport in the biggest show in amateur sports women ski jumpers will final get their time on the big stage. The 2014 Sochi Olympics will be the stage of yet another new sport as the IOC finally conceded to trying to make the Olympics a place where every one of any gender or race can show what they can achieve when given the chance.

 

The Russian Backdrop

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The IOC would make a big decision when they chose Russia to host the 2014 Olympics as it would mark the first time the Olympics would go to the once Communist country. A lot has changed in Russia since the time of Soviet rule but there are still a lot of controversial aspects of the country. One of the biggest controversies would come at a terrible time for Russians when the government decided that they would outlaw anything remotely homosexual in society. In June of 2013, less than a year away from the Olympics, the Russian government would ban “homosexual propaganda” throughout Russia. It would mean that any demonstrations in favour of gay rights, anyone speaking in favour of gay rights, any documents in favour of gay rights, or anyone stating that gay relationships are equal to straight relationships will all break the federal law. This would happen in an era where gay rights were becoming a main subject in all aspects of society. Gay marriage was being passed all over the world and the entire debate was beginning to side for equal rights for all people. That would also begin creeping into sports and with athletes being more comfortable to come out and be themselves the sports world has become much more accepting than it used to be. Now athletes who are straight and gay will travel to Russia with this law hanging over all of their heads. Although there will likely be no action taken against athletes there is still the issue of human rights hanging over an event that will put Russia in the public eye. The gay rights law is not the only issue for these Olympics as a number of terrorist threats have haunted the months leading up to the games. Russia has never been a very sturdy place and with terrorist factions from Chechnya claiming that they plan on disrupting the Olympics there is a lot of concern. There have been multiple terrorist attacks in the past few months and it has become one of the biggest concerns for organizers, athletes, and fans alike. There have always been terrorist threats in every Olympic Games but the ones for Sochi seem to be the most legitimate and that leaves many people very concerned. Russia will be on the front stage in February and they will have a lot to battle if they want people to see them in a different light after the games leave.

 

Where’s the Snow?

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When planning to host the Olympic Games there are a lot of concerns to go over and one of them will always be the weather. This is never more true than at the Winter Olympics as one of the main issues has become the level of snow for the games. Global Warming has had its toll on the Winter Olympics with many places seeing less and less snow as the weather becomes more unpredictable throughout the years. In 2010 Vancouver would be one of the first cities to host that would begin to worry about snow in February. With an unusually mild winter all of Canada was seeing less snow than they were used to and in Whistler, where all of the mountain sports were being held, producing enough snow for the Olympic Games became a very serious problem. The organizing committee for Vancouver would have to begin flying in snow to the mountain from further north in the province in order to have enough snow to hold the games. It was a major issue but the Olympics would continue on and were a very successful year for the games. When the IOC would go about deciding their next host there was concern over places that might not see enough snow to avoid the issues of 2010. Then the IOC would select a city in Russia that was known more for their beaches on the Black Sea than their ski resorts. The concern became immediate as Sochi is considered a subtropical climate that more often than not stays above 0°C. The committee would learn from their predecessors in Vancouver and would begin creating snow for the Olympics when they learned they would be hosting the Olympics. The committee has stored around 16,000 cubic feet of snow that they will bring in for the two weeks of the Olympics in what could be one of the strangest sights in Winter Olympic history. This year a summer resort town where people go to get away from the subzero temperatures will host the biggest winter sporting event in the world. It is not going to be so hot that people will be walking around with shorts and T-shirts but it could be the warmest Winter Olympics ever and because of that everyone will be looking to see how they can keep snow around for the entire two weeks of the games.

 

Another Important Tournament

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The hockey tournament in the Olympics is the crown jewel of the games as it serves much like the track competition in the Summer Olympics. It is the most watched part of the Olympics and many times is the one event that nobody can find tickets for. That becomes even more so when the Olympics travels to a country that lives and breathes hockey. In 2010 the Olympics would see that first hand when Canadians would line up every morning for the chance at buying a handful of tickets on sale to any hockey game they could attend. Canadians are in love with the sport and it would become the hottest ticket during the 2010 Vancouver Olympics along with becoming the most important medal for the home team. In 2014 there will be a repeat of the fandom as another hockey power and hockey mad country will get to see their heroes at home for the first time. Russia is a great winter sports nation with great athletes in many different sports but by far they are a hockey nation. With the only league that has the ability to challenge the NHL, the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), and more NHL stars than almost any other country save USA and Canada Russia is sure to make the hockey tournament a memorable one. It will once again become the most important medal for the home team but there will be another factor that makes this tournament more important than any other. This will also likely be the last time the NHL lends their players to the Olympic Games with the next Olympics taking place in South Korea and the unrest in the ownership ranks. It could be the last time that the best players in the world come together to play for an Olympic medal and for the home team they are hoping that it can translate to a gold medal. Hockey will once again take the focus of the Winter Olympics for many countries around the world and with a hockey crazed nation watching their home team there will be plenty of pressure on the home team to win and plenty of pressure on other teams to upset the hockey power one their own ice.

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