The Road to Sochi.

E. ON IBU Biathlon World Cup - Sochi

As The Hollies used to sing “The road is long, with many a winding turn, that leads us to – who knows where”. Well we do know where, it’s to Sochi but why everyone is obsessed with the road I don’t know. It’s pretty far away – I suggest you fly!

Sochi is a city in Krasnodar Krai on the Black Sea coast near the Russia-Georgia border close to the Caucasus Mountains. It has a population of just under 350,000 which makes it Russia’s largest resort city and has a subtropical climate of hot summers and mild winters. If you are lucky enough to be going there for the Winter Olympics there are many things to do to fill in the time between events.

Sochi has two aquariums, a zoo and a Dolphinarium. It has many different museums and if history is your thing you can tour some local Byzantine ruins or visit Stalin’s old summer home. Legend has it that his ghost still wanders its halls at night- so don’t go there at night! Instead you can enjoy the many bars,clubs and casinos in the city.For the nature lover there is also Sochi National Park where you can go to the top of Mount Akhun and if you are brave in February you can go to one of the beaches or take a boat tour.

If you are going to watch the biathlon you will be heading for the Laura Stadium. You can find it to the northwest of the Rosa Khutor Alpine Resort. There you will find a world-class 9,600 seater stadium, the courses for biathlon and cross country skiing, the shooting range and a warm-up area. A World Cup round was held in Sochi in March 2013 as a test for the Olympics and it proved to be a very difficult track. Despite that it was a hit with most of the biathletes.

Martin Fourcade said: “The stadium is really huge and the track is hard. This course was made for strong skiers and I’m happy about it.”Raphael Poirée liked the location saying that: “There is so much wood around. Nowadays they cut the wood at the stadiums, so it is not natural.” Tora Berger commented that: “The track is really nice and difficult. I’m looking forward to starting here; it is going to be real fun. At the same time, it might be the most difficult track I’ve ever seen. The uphills are very demanding.”

If you are wondering about the name of the stadium it is named after the nearby River Laura. The name of the river is based on a legend of a young girl, Laura, who chose death over living with an old prince she did not love. After running away from the prince, Laura jumped into the river and Murat, Laura’s lover, could not live with the pain of their parting and jumped in after her. Not the happiest of endings but I am hoping none of the biathletes do the same if they have a bad day on the shooting range!

So The Road to Sochi has been long and winding but there is not much further to travel now. The first event is the Men’s 10km Sprint on the 8th of February. If you are going as a spectator you will have a great time in a great city but please don’t take the road – fly!

For information on Sochi see:
http://www.sochicityguide.com/everything-about-sochi/things-to-do-in-sochi
For information about the Laura Stadium see:
http://www.sochi2014.com/en/spectators-place-laura-cc-bt-center/

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