The organizers received over 24,000 sketches for the Sochi 2014 mascot from all across Russia, with only the best of them making the final, which was broadcast live on national television. For the first time in Olympic history, the talisman was selected by an all-nation telephone vote, in which 1.4 million people took part.
TV host Ivan Urgant in a Channel One studio presenting the “Leopard” mascot, the leader of the sms-voting, at the shooting of the TV show “Sochi 2014 Talismania. Final”. (RIA Novosti / Ilya Pitalev)
The race was so tight that the election council decided that the three characters, who garnered the most votes, would become the mascots of the Winter Olympic Games. The Polar Bear, the European Hare and the Amur Leopard turned out to be the winners. The organizers explained their decision by saying that three mascots are the right number to fill all the spots on the Olympic podium.
According to his bio, the Polar Bear was rescued by Russian polar explorers after drifting away from his parents on an ice floe. It was these people who discovered his athletic potential and taught the animal skiing, speed-skating, curling and his favorite sport of bobsleigh. Before moving to the Back Sea resort of Sochi, the Polar Bear lived in an ice house beyond the Arctic Circle where everything is made of ice and snow, even his PC.
RIA Novosti / Ramil Sitdikov)
September 19, 2009. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin seen near a leopard’s house during a visit to Sochi National Park. (RIA Novosti / Alexei Druzhinin)
The Hare is known as the busiest creature in the winter woods of central Russia. Besides being one of the brightest students of the Forest Academy, she finds time to help her mom in a family restaurant and go in for sports, with figure skating being her specialty.
After arriving in Sochi, the Leopard became a rescuer, protecting villages in the Caucasian mountains from avalanche threats. The cheerful predator opts for extreme sports, being a top-class snowboarder. The Leopard is said to be a personal favorite of Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin. The mascots feature in the huge variety of Sochi 2014 souvenirs, which include magnets, toys, ceramics, stamps, coins and much more.
The talismans for the Sochi 2014 Paralympics were selected together with the Olympics ones, with the Russians giving their backing to the Ray of Light and the Snowflake. Those extraterrestrial beings arrived on Earth from two very different planets, one hot and fiery and the other, cold and icy. The duo represent a true and contrasting personification of harmony after sports turned them into the greatest friends in the galaxy.
Honorary President of the Russian Olympic Committee Leonid Tygachev in the Manezh Central Exhibition Hall at the Olympians Ball dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Russian Olympic Committee. (RIA Novosti / Alexey Filippov)