February 7, 2014
Twelve new sports, medals with meteorite fragments and a tortuous torch relay are just part of what makes the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics a truly unique event.
A record number of 88 countries have sent more than 3,000 athletes to compete in the Games, while over 700 participants from in excess of 40 countries will take part in Paralympics.
The US Olympic team will provide the biggest presence, with 233 athletes in all, while only one entrant each will represent the Islands of Bermuda, Venezuela, British Virgin Islands, East Timor and Zimbabwe.
More than 40 world leaders will attend the opening ceremony February 7; over 60 are expected to witness the Games in general.
Slovak professional ice hockey defenseman Zdeno Chára will be the heaviest sportsman at the Olympics at 2.06 meters tall and weighing 116 kg. The lightest Sochi athlete will be 43kg short-track speed skater Anna Seidel from Germany.
At just 15 years old, Japanese snowboarder Ayumu Hirano is the youngest competitor, while the oldest is Mexican Alpine skier Prince Hubertus of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, 55.
There will be a record 98 events at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games: 12 more than in Vancouver 2010. Over 15 disciplines in seven sports are included in the Games schedule.
Among 12 new sports are the figure skating team event, slopestyle and half-pipe skiing (both men’s and women’s).
The brand-new 1,814-meter-long Sanki Sliding Center track becomes the longest-ever in the world for bobsleigh, luge and skeleton. It was designed specifically to host international tournaments and was constructed in just two years.
Sanki’s statistics are impressive: 17 turns for men and 16 for women and pairs. The bobs will flash past with a maximum speed of around 135km per hour. The highest point is located at 836 meters above sea level and its lowest point at 704 meters.
Another record is the number of medals to be presented at a Winter Olympics: 1,254 (98 sets for the Olympics and 72 for the Paralympics).
Those athletes who “bite” their medals for the cameras will be chomping on some of the 2.5 kg of gold, 490 kg of silver and 210 kg of bronze that have been used in medal production.
Each gold medal weights 531g, while silvers are 525g and bronze discs 460g.
Meanwhile, the 686-gram Paralympic gold medals will be the heaviest in Olympic history.
Ten Sochi Olympics winners who receive their gold medals on February 15 will be awarded medals embedded with tiny fragments of last year’s Chelyabinsk meteorite.
The Games wouldn’t be the same without dedicated volunteers, 25,000 of whom are helping with both the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
More than 1 million people are expected to watch the Olympics live, while the anticipated TV audience is 3 billion, according to Itar-Tass.
Three hundred and sixty-three pieces of infrastructure have been constructed especially for the Olympics.
The Sochi Olympics will be the most compact in the Games’ history, with all the venues situated quite close to each other.
The 5369.7-meter-long cable-car lift from Alpika-Service Railway Station to Laura Stadium is the longest in the world.
The record-breaking 65,000km Olympic Torch Relay route is 1.5 times Earth’s circumference. It has been hosted by 135 cities located in all of Russia’s 83 regions and republics. The longest nonstop leg of the relay spanned 2,055km, between the cities of Norilsk and Yakutsk in the Russian Far East.
Meanwhile, a total of 14,000 torch bearers have taken part in the 2014 Olympic Torch Relay, with the oldest participant aged 101, proving age is no barrier to the Olympic spirit.