2014 Winter Olympics

Facts

Competition type Olympic Games
Host city (Venues)
Opening ceremony 7 February
Closing ceremony 23 February
Competition dates 6 – 23 February
OCOG Organizing Committee of the XXII Olympic Winter Games and XI Paralympic Winter Games of 2014 in Sochi
Participants 2747 from 89 countries
Medal events 98 in 15 disciplines

Overview

In July 2007 the IOC chose Sochi, Russia to host the 2014 Olympic Winter Games over PyeongChang, Korea and the seemingly safe choice of Salzburg, Austria. It was a highly unusual choice as Sochi, in southern Russia on the Black Sea, was a summer resort, and had no winter sports facilities at the time of the bid, but Russian President Vladimir Putin made an impassioned plea to the IOC and he would come to dominate the 2014 Winter Olympics as had no non-athlete since Adolf Hitler at 1936 Berlin.

Because Sochi lacked winter sports facilities, everything had to be built from scratch, including all the venues, a winter ski resort in the mountains of Krasnaya Polyana in the Caucasus Mountains, and all the associated infrastructure, including roads between the two sets of venues (Coastal Cluster and Mountain Cluster), Olympic Villages for the athletes, and hotels for the media and spectators. The eventual cost skyrocketed to a widely publicized figure of $51 billion (US), far exceeding the cost of all previous Winter Olympics combined, and easily surpassing the highest ever for a Summer Olympics, the usually quoted $33 billion (US) for Beijing in 2008.

There were some problems leading up to the start of the Olympics, one when Russia’s government passed a highly controversial anti-gay law, and the Western media seized on this to criticize Russia and the choice of Sochi as a host. There were even some calls for a boycott, but no governments gave them serious heed. Then when the media started arriving, they found that Sochi and Russia had spent huge amounts of money on the venues and Olympic Villages, which were well-constructed, but the organizers had not found the time to really finish the hotels housing the media and spectators, which were in disrepair or half-finished states. The Twitterverse abounded with stories and pictures of shoddy accommodations, which again cast Sochi in a poor light prior to the Opening Ceremony.

Another concern for Sochi in the years leading up to the Games was the weather. In southernmost Russia on the banks of the Black Sea, there was worry that there would not be adequate snow in the mountains. The Sochi Organizing Committee actually stored snow from the previous winter and had ample snowmaking equipment ready in case the weather was too warm in the mountains. In the end, the problem never materialized as the weather cooperated, although it was toasty for a Winter Olympics.

The most concern before the Games, however, centered on the threat of terrorism from nearby Georgia and the Caucasus region. Terror attacks occurred in nearby Ukraine only a few 100 miles from Sochi, and local Muslim terrorist leaders in Georgia stated openly that they would wreak havoc on the Winter Olympics, which sat on the site of the Circassian Genocide in the 19th century, when Russians practiced ethnic cleansing on the area, killing or evicting many local Tatars and Muslims, and the terrorists, with long memories, vowed revenge for holding an Olympics on what they considered sacred ground.

But once the Sochi Olympics started, many of the problems melted away in the warm coastal sunshine next to the Black Sea. The venues were beautiful, the weather held up reasonably well, although it was quite warm in the mountains, there was ample snow, and the Russian government put Sochi into lockdown mode, ensuring that no terrorist attacks occurred during the Olympics. For the Russian athletes, it was a successful Olympics as they would lead the medal tables with 33 medals and 13 gold medals. But in another sense, it was disappointing as they had focused on winning gold in men’s ice hockey and when the Russian team was beaten in the quarter-finals by Finland, they would not even make the medal podium in the event they most wanted to win.

The biggest success story in Sochi was the Dutch speed skating team which dominated the sport like no other in Winter Olympic history. The Netherlands won 24 medals in Sochi, 23 in long-track speed skating, the other in short-track, winning 23 of the possible 32 medals available to them in long-track, and 8 of the 12 gold medals. They swept three events, the men’s 500, 5,000, and 10,000 metres, but their top medal winner was female Ireen Wüst, who won 5 medals, including two golds. The Dutch hegemony was accompanied by a dismal showing by the USA speed skaters who were shut out of the medals in the sport for only the second time ever at the Winter Olympics, after that had occurred in 1984.

In men’s biathlon, Norway’s Ole Einar Bjørndalen set an all-time Olympic record by winning 2 medals, giving him 13 for his career, the most ever won at the Winter Olympics, bettering the mark of 12 by his countryman Bjørn Dæhlie in cross-country skiing. On the women’s side, cross-country skier Marit Bjørgen won 3 gold medals, giving her 10 medals all-time, equalling the female Winter Olympic record held by Italy’s Stefania Belmondo and the Soviet Union’s Raisa Smetanina, both cross-country skiers.

As the Games proceeded, troubling political news came from nearby Ukraine, where protests and revolts erupted, as the people of Ukraine supported lending their allegiance to the European Union, opposing the government’s desire to align with Russia. While that could be an innocuous decision in some countries it was not for the Ukraine, as shortly after Sochi ended, Russian troops took control of the Crimea, a Ukrainian peninsula in the Black Sea, less than 100 miles from Sochi. Putin supported the Russian incursion by stating it was necessary to protect ethnic Russians in the area. It was eerily redolent of proclamations in 1938 when Hitler moved German troops into the Sudetenland to protect ethnic Germans in Czechoslovakia, less than 2 years after the Berlin Olympics had ended. Eventually, less than a month after the Winter Olympics had ended, held under the guise of a United Nations’ mandated Olympic Truce, Russia annexed Crimea, purportedly by referendum, but with a 97% approval, surely at the point of Russian guns.

But despite all the concerns and problems, before and after, the overall feeling towards the Sochi Winter Olympics was positive. What was less certain was what would become of Sochi and the infrastructure that was built to host the Olympics? Plans were made to turn Krasnaya Polyana into a ski resort post-Olympics, but Sochi is not easy to get to – requiring multiple flights and a visa to enter Russia, and many wondered why families would choose Sochi over established resorts in Switzerland, France, or Austria, all much more easily accessible. There were plans for a Formula 1 race in 2015, some of the venues would be used for the 2018 World Cup, and the Organizing Committee stated that the Russian people would use the area as a winter resort, but there was questions if that would be enough to support the cost of all the venues. Would all of the venues and structures end up as Olympic white elephants, similar to what happened in Athens after 2004 and many of the 2008 Beijing venues? All to be determined.

Bid process

The 22nd Olympic Winter Games host city were awarded to Sochi, Russia, which was selected at the 119th IOC Session in Guatemala City on 4 July 2007. Sochi won the bid over PyeongChang, Korea, and Salzburg, Austria. There were four other candidate cities – Almaty, Kazakhstan; Borjomi, Georgia; Jaca, Spain; and Sofia, Bulgaria – but the IOC narrowed the field to the final three candidates in June 2006.

The IOC Executive Committee, at its meeting of 22 June 2006, narrowed the field to the final three candidate cities. Eliminated were: Almaty (Kazakhstan), Borjomi (Georgia), Jaca (Spain) and Sofia (Bulgaria).

Round 1 Round 2
Sochi Russia 34 51
PyeongChang South Korea 36 47
Salzburg Austria 25

Ceremonies

Officially opened by Vladimir Putin (President)
Torchbearer(s) Vladislav Tretyak (Lit flame), Irina Rodnina (Lit flame), Alina Kabayeva, Aleksandr Karelin, Yelena Isinbayeva, Mariya Sharapova
Taker of the Athlete's Oath Ruslan Zakharov
Taker of the Official's Oath Vyacheslav Vedenin (Cross Country Skiing)
Taker of the Coach's Oath Anastasiya Popkova (Alpine Skiing)
Flagbearers Full list
Olympic Flag Bearers Chulpan Khamatova, Lidiya Skoblikova, Anastasiya Popova, Valentina Tereshkova, Vyacheslav Fetisov, Valery Gergiyev, Alan Yenileyev, Nikita Mikhalkov

Medal Disciplines

Alpine Skiing Figure Skating Short Track Speed Skating
Biathlon Freestyle Skiing Skeleton
Bobsleigh Ice Hockey Ski Jumping
Cross Country Skiing Luge Snowboarding
Curling Nordic Combined Speed Skating

Medal table

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
Norway NOR 11 5 10 26
Canada CAN 10 10 5 25
Russian Federation RUS 10 9 9 28
United States USA 9 9 10 28
Netherlands NED 8 7 9 24
Germany GER 8 6 5 19
Switzerland SUI 7 2 2 11
Belarus BLR 5 0 1 6
Austria AUT 4 8 5 17
France FRA 4 4 7 15
Poland POL 4 1 1 6
People's Republic of China CHN 3 4 2 9
Republic of Korea KOR 3 3 2 8
Sweden SWE 2 7 6 15
Czech Republic CZE 2 4 2 8
Slovenia SLO 2 2 4 8
Japan JPN 1 4 3 8
Finland FIN 1 3 1 5
Great Britain GBR 1 1 3 5
Latvia LAT 1 1 3 5
Ukraine UKR 1 0 1 2
Slovakia SVK 1 0 0 1
Italy ITA 0 2 6 8
Australia AUS 0 2 1 3
Croatia CRO 0 1 0 1
Kazakhstan KAZ 0 0 1 1

Most successful competitors

Athlete Nat Gold Silver Bronze Total
Viktor An KOR
RUS
3 0 1 4
Marit Bjørgen NOR 3 0 0 3
Darya Domracheva BLR 3 0 0 3
Ireen Wüst NED 2 3 0 5
Sven Kramer NED 2 1 0 3
Martin Fourcade FRA 2 1 0 3
Park Seung-Hui KOR 2 0 1 3
Ole Einar Bjørndalen NOR 2 0 0 2
Tina Maze SLO 2 0 0 2
Kamil Stoch POL 2 0 0 2
Tetiana Volosozhar RUS
UKR
2 0 0 2
Emil Hegle Svendsen NOR 2 0 0 2
Dario Cologna SUI 2 0 0 2
Maksim Trankov RUS 2 0 0 2
Felix Loch GER 2 0 0 2
Natalie Geisenberger GER 2 0 0 2
Jorien ter Mors NED 2 0 0 2
Tobias Arlt GER 2 0 0 2
Tobias Wendl GER 2 0 0 2
Jørgen Graabak NOR 2 0 0 2
Vic Wild OAR
RUS
2 0 0 2

All medalists at these Games