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2014 Sochi Winter Olympics

Sochi Winter Olympics 2014 logo

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The 2014 Winter Olympics, officially known as the XXII Olympic Winter Games, are being held in Sochi, Russia, from February 7 to 23. Over 2,500 athletes representing 90 nations are competing for gold, silver and bronze medals in 98 events.


Sochi, Russia

In 2007, Sochi was chosen as the host city for the 2014 Winter Olympics and Winter Paralympics. Sochi is a resort city on the east coast of the Black Sea in Krasnodar Krai in south-west Russia. Its beaches, parks and subtropical climate attract over 2,000,000 visitors each year, providing employment and income for many of the 350,000 people who live there.

Costs and Venues

The previous Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada, cost 8 billion dollars to stage. The organizers of the Sochi Winter Olympics were given a budget of 12 billion dollars, but they eventually spent over 50 billion dollars, making the event the most expensive in Olympic history. Most of the money came from the Russian federal budget. Some of it was used to improve local infrastructure, and some was used to build venues and housing for athletes and officials, but critics claim most of the money was stolen by corrupt politicians and government officials. These claims have been strongly denied by the Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Many of the venues built for the games are in Sochi Olympic Park, including the 40,000-capacity Fisht Olympic Stadium where the opening and closing ceremonies are being held, the Bolshoy Ice Dome and Shabaya Arena where ice hockey matches are being played, the Adler Arena Skating Center where speed skating events are being held, and the Iceberg Skating Palace where figure skating events are being held. A media centre and an Olympic village are also in this area. Other sports like skiing, ski jumping, snowboarding and bobsleigh are being staged near Krasnaya Polyana, a popular winter resort in the Western Caucasus Mountains 60 kilometres inland from Sochi. A second Olympic village and media centre are also located there.

Sochi Olympic venues
Map of Sochi Olympic Park and surrounding areas (NB: some events take place in the mountains 60km inland)
© Sémhur / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0 (or Free Art License)

Sports and Events

Winter sports are defined in the 2007 Olympic Charter as "sports which are practised on snow or ice". In the 2014 Winter Olympics, the world's top athletes in 15 of these sports are competing in 98 events in four broad categories.


Skating events include Figure Skating (5 events), Speed Skating (12) and Short Track Speed Skating (8). These events are held on ice rinks, and competitors wear bladed boots called ice skates that allow them to move quickly and smoothly over the ice. In figure skating events, competitors perform set moves like spins, jumps and lifts in choreographed programs set to music. In speed skating events, skaters race on an oval track around the edge of the ice rink.


Skiing events include Alpine Skiing (10), Biathlon (11), Cross Country Skiing (12), Freestyle Skiing (10), Nordic Combined (3), Ski Jumping (4) and Snowboarding (10). They are held on snow-covered slopes or on flat, snow-covered plains. Competitors slide over the snow on long, narrow skis, using hand-held poles to push themselves along. In alpine skiing events, competitors ski as fast as they can down a steep, winding course. In freestyle events, competitors perform mid-air acrobatics while skiing along a specially-prepared course. In ski jumping events, competitors try to go as far as possible through the air after skiing off a ramp. In cross-country events, skiers race over long distances on snow-covered plains (up to 50 km). Nordic Combined events involve both cross-country skiing and ski jumping, while biathlon events combine cross-country skiing with rifle shooting. In snowboarding events, competitors race or perform acrobatic moves on a single ski that resembles a large skateboard.

downhill skiing
Slovenian alpine skier Andrej Sporn competing at the Winter Olympics
Photo: Jon Wick / CC-BY-2.0


Sledding events include Bobsleigh (3), Luge (4) and Skeleton (2). They are high-speed time trials in which competitors on sleds (also "sledges" or "sleighs") slide down a steep, curving ice track, with the competitor recording the quickest time winning. In bobsleigh, or bobsled, teams of two or four competitors sit one behind the other in partially-covered sleds. In luge, individual competitors sit on small, lightweight sleds, while in skeleton competitors lie face-down on their sleds.

US two-woman bobsleigh team pushing off at the 2010 Winter Olympics
U.S. Army photo by Tim Hipps

Team Sports

The team sports of Curling (2) and Ice Hockey (2) are played on ice rinks. In curling, each team slides large polished stones across the ice towards a circular target. Points are scored by whichever team leaves one of their stones closest to the centre of the target. The team with the most points after ten "ends" is the winner. In ice hockey, players carry ice-hockey sticks and try to score by using them to hit a small, flat object called a "puck" into their opponents' goal.

Winter Olympics

Sports video showing a wide range of Winter Olympic sports set to music

Winter Paralympics

The 2014 Winter Paralympics, officially known as the XI Paralympic Winter Games, are being held in Sochi from March 7 to March 16. Many of the venues built for the Winter Olympics are also being used for the Paralympics. Around 1,650 athletes, each with some form of physical or intellectual disability, are competing in a total of 70 events, including alpine skiing (30 events), biathlon (18), cross-country skiing (20), ice sledge hockey (1) and wheelchair curling (1).

event (n): a particular contest in a sporting programme
The ice dancing competition is always one of the most popular events.
budget (n): the money available for organizing or running something
Our school has an annual budget of around a million dollars.
infrastructure (n): structures needed for transport, energy supply, communications, etc.
We need to develop our country's infrastructure.
venue (n): the place where a sporting or cultural event is held
Are you sure this venue will be big enough for our concert?
corrupt (adj): greedy, cunning and thieving, esp. of politicians and government officials
Even if corrupt politicians are caught, they rarely go to jail.
media centre (n): a place with facilities for reporters and others who work for the media
Our media centre has state-of-the-art telecommunications equipment.
ice rink (n) (also "ice-skating rink"): a large flat area of ice, or a building containing this
There's an ice rink and a bowling alley on the top floor of the mall.
slide (v): to move smoothly over a wet or slippery surface
The kids were sliding down a grassy slope in old cardboard boxes.
steep (adj): rising or falling quickly, of a slope, path, mountain road, etc.
The path to the top of this hill is really steep.
sled (n) (also "sledge" or "sleigh"): something you can sit on that slides over snow or ice
Arctic explorers transported all of their supplies on sleds.
disability (n): a condition that limits use of the body or brain, often caused by an accident or illness
Her disability doesn't mean she can't work or have a family.

Sochi 2014 Olympics Quiz
1 A winter resort in the Western Caucasus Mountains is hosting .
2 The Adler Arena Skating Center is the venue for .
3 One of the events held on a steep, downhill course is .
4 In ski jumping, the winner is the competitor who jumps .
5 In ice hockey, players score by hitting into a goal.
6 The Winter Paralympics will take place the Winter Olympics.

Researched and written for EnglishClub by Matt Errey

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