Sochi's Olympic legacies costly: report 

Russian taxpayers shoulder costs of unused venues

click to enlarge Enjoying winter
  • Enjoying winter

One year on from the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia and most of the venues filled with the world's best athletes and crammed with cheering fans are sitting empty.

An Associated Press report from Feb. 5 explains how Russian taxpayers are on the hook for more costs of the most expensive Olympics of all time than originally planned.

The report details how the country made agreements with private investors to take costs from the state to help the $51-billion Games go off. However, two investors have dumped properties costing $3 billion back onto the state, Russia's deputy prime minister confirmed to the AP, which noted the country's taxpayers are now responsible for the costs. According to the report, the properties range from athletic venues such as the ski jump site, which ballooned in costs from US $40 million to $300 million and prompted an investigation into the site's original owner, to hotels.

In a response to a Toronto Star column by Bruce Arthur that called Sochi a "ghost town," International Olympic Committee director of communications Mark Adams wrote that the Games are still expected to make an operational profit, listed off nine high-profile events the legacy venues are set to host between the Games' completion and 2018 and noted Sochi's mayor reported all hotel rooms were booked between November and January.

"[A]uthorities had to actually use traffic calming measures to control the number of tourists," Adams wrote.

Olympic Mondays wrap up

As for Whistler's own Olympic legacies, the sites are looking to make the most of a challenging winter.

The first run of Whistler Sport Legacies' Olympic Mondays program wrapped up on Feb. 16. The pilot program saw 14 participants aged nine through 12 try out cross-country skiing, alpine skiing, snowboarding, luge, freestyle/moguls and biathlon. Ski jumping was slated to be included, but was scrapped due to the warm conditions.

The BC Luge Association, Canadian Snow Sports Association, Whistler Mountain Ski Club, Whistler Blackcomb, Canadian Freestyle Ski Association and Canadian Luge Association all chipped in to help make the program go.

In a release, Whistler Sport Legacies said it plans to push forward with similar programming for both winter and summer sports.

Ski Callaghan night skiing done for the season

Though Ski Callaghan facilities are back up and running, warm conditions have felled one program.

Wednesday night skiing at Whistler Olympic Park is done for the season because of a lack of snow cover on the lighted loop. The minimal snow creates a safety hazard, so organizers have decided to end the program for the year. The $5 special for tickets and rental gear is in effect Wednesdays from 3 p.m. until the park's 4:30 p.m. closing time.

Tobogganing and fat-biking are on hold for the moment because of warm and wet weather as well.

However, 40 kilometres of cross-country ski trails, including dog trails, and 10 kilometres of snowshoe trails remain open.

Ski Callaghan is a partnership between Whistler Olympic Park and Callaghan Country Wilderness Adventures. More information on Ski Callaghan is available at www.skicallaghan.ca.

As well, GPS grooming maps and trail updates are online at www.whistlersportlegacies.com.

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