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Earth Science Technology

How Russia Transformed a Subtropical Beach Resort To Host the Winter Olympics 359

Posted by timothy
from the putin-alone-between-prizefights dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Duncan Geere reports at The Verge that Russian resort as Sochi, on the eastern shore of the Black Sea, is humid and subtropical with temperatures averaging about 52 degrees Fahrenheit (12 C) in the winter, and 75 degrees (24 C) in the summer. "There is almost no snow here — at the moment it's raining," says Olga Mironova, a local resident. It's estimated that the cost of staging the Olympics in Sochi has been greater than the previous three Winter Games combined — ballooning to a whopping $51 billion including the cost of implementing an extensive system of safeguards to ensure there'll be sufficient snow in Sochi for the games including the cost of implementing one of the largest snowmaking systems in Europe. The system includes two huge water reservoirs that feed 400 snow cannons installed along the slopes that can generate snow in temperatures of up to 60 degrees fahrenheit (16 C). If that snow isn't enough, then the authorities will fall back on 710,000 cubic meters of snow collected during the winters of previous years leading up to the games. To keep it from melting in the region's hot summers, 10 separate stockpiles have been kept packed tight under insulating covers high up in the mountains, safe from the sun's rays. Down in Sochi itself the other half of the games will be held in five indoor arenas that will host figure skating, speed skating, hockey, and curling, and an additional outdoor area will host the opening and closing ceremonies. In each of these indoor arenas, underfloor cooling systems are installed so that the ice stays frozen above it using propylene glycol, which doesn't freeze until temperatures reach 8.6 F (-13 C). Climatologists predict that even under a best-case scenario, almost half the venues that have hosted the Winter Olympics over the last century would be unable to do so by 2080 without resorting to extensive and expensive artificial snowmaking techniques.""
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How Russia Transformed a Subtropical Beach Resort To Host the Winter Olympics

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  • by Mikkeles (698461) on Monday February 10, 2014 @08:17AM (#46209203)

    Taking a semi-tropical place and turning it into an expensive, barely working winter wonderland is a very stupid idea. Implementing it is even stupider.

    • Car analogy:

      https://www.google.com/search?... [google.com]

    • by timeOday (582209)
      It is working out well for the Olympics though. I was watching it yesterday, there's plenty of snow and it was a bright, beautiful day. Didn't match the tone of all these relentlessly whiny articles at all.
    • The strange thing is, Russia has plenty of places with snow. Why did they go to all that expense?
      • by colenski (552404)
        Putin and his cronies vacation there. Seriously.
        • by guacamole (24270)

          Most Russians vacationed there in the Soviet ear. In the 90s the infrastructure crumbled and most Russians decided its better to vacation in Egypt and Turkey in the summer. Sochi area has become a huge dump and a village. This is why it was so costly (I don't deny a lot of money got stolen too). They had to rebuild all highways, airport, hotels, public transport, and build the new Olympic village, which also will be hosting Russia's Formula 1 race.

    • by Bohnanza (523456)
      They HAD to do it. After all, there is no place in Russia cold enough for it to snow.
  • Not to nention that Sochi is characterised by poverty, separatism, terrorism and mass beach tourism:
    http://www.thesochiproject.org... [thesochiproject.org]

    Pete Boyd

    • by mu51c10rd (187182)

      Not to nention that Sochi is characterised by poverty, separatism, terrorism and mass beach tourism

      So when poor beach tourists start advocating a violent separation from Russia, we should be concerned?

  • by Viol8 (599362) on Monday February 10, 2014 @08:36AM (#46209305)

    Its down to the monumental institutionalised corruption in Russia where everyone from the highest level apparatchik down to the brick layer is on the take.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      it's fucking ridiculous. with 51 billion dollars you could have hosted the games in Helsinki, BUILT THE FUCKING MOUNTAIN for the slope needing competitions and still have the hotels ready in time.

      but you want to know the really funny thing? Sochi has more gay clubs than Helsinki.

      it's not one or two guys who got killed over the Sochi contracts either. that's why foreign companies didn't touch the bidding for contracts... and why the companies really didn't think that they would be penalized on payments if th

    • by Khashishi (775369)

      Yeah, in a proper capitalist institution, only the highest level is supposed to be on the take.

  • Putin's Games (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 10, 2014 @08:36AM (#46209309)
    These games are also a show of the absolutely incredible depth of corruption in Russia. The initial budget of $12 billion has ballooned to over four times to some $50 billion – the most expensive winter or summer Olympics in the history. The 45-kilometre road from Sochi to the outdoor venues alone cost $8 billion, enough to pave the finished road with 5-millimetre thick gold. It was a common arrangement in the Olympic construction projects to use the money as follows: 30% for the actual construction work, 35% to the officials and 35% to the "oligarchs" who oversaw the project. And let's not forget how the Sochi locals who happened to live near the coming Olympic venues have been brutally forced on the streets without any compensation for their expropriated property, thanks to a special law that Putin had passed in Duma. You should see the documentary Putin's Games [youtube.com] for some background on the mind-boggling amounts of corruption in these games.
    • by m00sh (2538182)

      These games are also a show of the absolutely incredible depth of corruption in Russia. The initial budget of $12 billion has ballooned to over four times to some $50 billion – the most expensive winter or summer Olympics in the history. The 45-kilometre road from Sochi to the outdoor venues alone cost $8 billion, enough to pave the finished road with 5-millimetre thick gold. It was a common arrangement in the Olympic construction projects to use the money as follows: 30% for the actual construction work, 35% to the officials and 35% to the "oligarchs" who oversaw the project. And let's not forget how the Sochi locals who happened to live near the coming Olympic venues have been brutally forced on the streets without any compensation for their expropriated property, thanks to a special law that Putin had passed in Duma. You should see the documentary Putin's Games [youtube.com] for some background on the mind-boggling amounts of corruption in these games.

      Where does corruption end and government spending begin?

  • ridiculos! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 10, 2014 @08:40AM (#46209321)

    Ok. I'm frankly sick and tired of all this media campaign of discrediting the Russian olympic games. I mean, this article is completely ridiculous.

    As a comparison, the weather in Sochi is similar to the one in Grenoble (at least from a temperature point of view). Now, the thing is that I live in Grenoble, which was also the location of the olympic games in the 60's. Like in Sochi, right now it is raining in Grenoble, and the temperatures are around 10 degrees Celsius. Despite this, just yesterday I went skiing at the resort which hosted the downhill event in the 60's and guess what? Perfect skiing conditions, all slopes were open and no artificial snow has been used in the last 4 weeks. How is this possible? Well, most of the events at the winter olympic games are hosted in the mountains, which in the case of Grenoble are 2000 meters above the level of the city. I don't know about Sochi but the Caucas mountains have peaks of over 5000 meters.

    Just comparing the temperatures in the biggest city which happens to be located near the actual mountains which host the games is completely stupid!

    • by swb (14022)

      In my experience this is true of most ski areas in the US, too.

      The "town" the ski area is located in is much lower than the ski area base. By the time you get to the top of the ski area you're 5000 or more feet above the town and the weather is much different.

      In town, it can be high 30s/low 40s (deg. F) and at the top of the ski area it's 15F.

      I think the snowmaking observation is a little overblown. I think before the widespread adoption of snowmaking, skiing was always weather dependent. You simply didn

      • by cellocgw (617879)

        In my experience this is true of most ski areas in the US, too.

        The "town" the ski area is located in is much lower than the ski area base. By the time you get to the top of the ski area you're 5000 or more feet above the town and the weather is much different.

        I rather doubt that's true in more than a few special locations in the USA. First of all, there's nowhere in New England that is 5000 feet above anything in New England with the exception, more or less, of Tuckerman's Ravine. Next, since places like Aspen and Denver start out in the cities at 6 to 8 kft, if you went up 5 kft from there you'd be in darn near in oxygen tank altitudes.

  • by rmdingler (1955220) on Monday February 10, 2014 @08:46AM (#46209357)
    State of the art megawatt snow-making equipment, stockpiles of snow from bygone years beneath thermal blankets in the mountains, and the employment of Altai Shaman to hold a mystical snow ceremony...

    Now, doesn't the lack of shower curtains and door knobs seem a bit pedantic?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I guess they couldn't find a colder place in such a tiny territory

  • by Maxwell (13985) on Monday February 10, 2014 @08:53AM (#46209415) Homepage

    This is the comment I am forced to type.

  • by Trachman (3499895) on Monday February 10, 2014 @08:56AM (#46209439)
    Yeah, making snow in Russia... Only in Russia... The cost of Olympic games is more than $50 Billion, or approximately $500 per Russian citizen, that is including babies and retired people. Had most of Russians been asked whether they agree to donate $500 per person they would have told "No". So they blew $50 billion... That is not entirely correct since this $50 billion has transformed to the salaries of the workers, organizers and security, cost of construction materials and the profits for organizers. So it is not all gone to waste. However Olympic games has always been a classic and favorite way of spreading the wealth... upwards. in 50 years we will hear about Russia's summer Olympic games in Arctic pole.
  • by GauteL (29207) on Monday February 10, 2014 @09:05AM (#46209495)

    While the indoor activities may well be in the City of Sochi, the activities which actually requires a large amount of snow (alpine and nordic) are actually arranged in Rosa Khutor [wikipedia.org], which may only be 50 km away, but happens to be approximately 1000 meters above sea level, something which does have an impact on the climate.

    There may be lots of things wrong with these Olympics, but there is no need to exaggerate.

  • by Fishchip (1203964) on Monday February 10, 2014 @09:15AM (#46209555)
    Right up until the end when GLOBAL WARMING.
    • by T.E.D. (34228)
      Actually, IMHO the GW stuff at the end is the most interesting part. What happens to the Winter Olympics when ice and snow become rare things? Not only is finding sites going to be tough, but also finding participants.
  • by oneiron (716313) on Monday February 10, 2014 @09:29AM (#46209629)
    The Greater Caucasus Mountains where the Olympics are being held receive as much snowfall as any major ski resort in the US. It's just a bad year for them...sort of like Vancouver 4 years ago. I really don't understand the "subtropical" knock that everyone keeps repeating. This is a huge mountain range that gets tons of snow every year. Not considering climate change, the facilities they've built in the mountains will probably serve as a very nice ski resort after the olympics...
  • In Soviet Russia We Host You!

  • by superwiz (655733) on Monday February 10, 2014 @10:05AM (#46209813) Journal
    2080? heh. Reminds me of Disraeli saying (and I am paraphrasing) that politicians enjoy a the privilege heretofore only afforded to whores - power without responsibility. I guess climatologists, too, now. Making predictions not verifiable until after their retirement? Check.
    • Making predictions not verifiable until after their retirement?

      Maybe they are actually smarter than they look. ;-)

  • With Russia having the mountain ranges and abundant amounts of cold and snow in other regions, why host the games here? I think this is just Putin waving his dick about.

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