Russia Set to Welcome World in 2014


Russia's Sochi House is the "it" place in Vancouver. Ok. One of them. The line Wednesday snaked around the building. Some 75,000 visitors have already wandered through this blue domed building that's right on Vancouver's waterfront.

Sochi House on Vancouvers waterfront.
  • Sadie Babits
  • Sochi House on Vancouver's waterfront.

Everyone comes to sip Vodka, listen to traditional singers and mingle with Russian athletes who've made Sochi house their home away from home. If they're lucky they'll spot Russia's team mascot Cheburashka - a fictional character that's been around in the country since the mid 1960s.

Cheburashka poses with a visitor to Sochi House.
  • Sadie Babits
  • Cheburashka poses with a visitor to Sochi House.

But mostly people want to find out where Sochi is. It's Russia's southernmost city with some 400,000 people. It's right by the Black Sea. So it's warmer than Vancouver. You can ski year round on mountains that are just thirty minutes away. Experts say snow won't be an issue because the mountains are much higher than Vancouver's coastal range. Vancouver had to truck snow in because much of it had melted ahead of the games.

Visitors also come to Sochi House to find out what Russia's vision is for the next Winter Games in 2014.
The answer lies in a three dimensional model of Sochi and the surrounding area. Press one of the buttons on the model and the Olympic Village lights up. Another button shows you where the curling rink will be or the international airport. Sochi will build everything from the ground up spending around twelve-billion dollars over the next five years.

Some of the venues will be portable. The curling rink, for example, will be taken apart after the 2014 games and sent around the country. That excites Russia's curling team. The group hasn't had an actual curling rink to practice or play on in Russia, ever.

So on Sunday, the 21st Winter Games come to an end. Vancouver will hand over the Olympic flag to Sochi - passing on an Olympic tradition.

Outside Sochi House Russian techno blasts from speakers.
  • Sadie Babits
  • Outside Sochi House Russian techno blasts from speakers.