Since Sochi has been chosen for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, the city won an opportunity to become a truly global site opened for tourists from other countries. It is the first city with subtropical climate where the Winter Olympic Games were being held. Always nicknamed as the Black Sea Pearl, and now, getting known as the Capital of the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sochi has gained several world’s honors: it is home to the XXII Winter Olympics and XI Paralympics Winter Games, as well as the 2014 Russian Formula 1 Grand Prix and it is also one of the host cities for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Instantly Sochi has entered a list of leading sports centers on the planet.
Located in the southern part of Russia, Sochi has been a popular seaside destination for years and has always been frequented by Moscow’s elite. About 3 million people flock to Greater Sochi every summer to enjoy the superb scenery of a biosphere reserve that belongs to a UNESCO World Heritage, visit historical sights, swim in the sea and lie on pebble and sand beaches which have the shoreline stretching for kilometers. Nowadays the city is gaining a new status. Thanks to almost immediately sprung new infrastructure and renovated sports facilities, Sochi has a real chance to become a world-class international ski destination for tourists.
If you feel inspired by the Winter Olympics and want to come to Sochi to ski and ride in the tracks of the Olympians, Krasnaya Polyana welcomes you. Situated near Sochi, 30 kilometers from the sea and 560m above sea level, Krasnaya Polyana (which means “Red Glade” in Russian) is a ski village surrounded by the picturesque Caucasus mountains. This area has undergone radical changes and has been converted into a modern sports and tourism complex of an international standard for the 2014 Winter Olympics and hosted most of the Olympic events. Today Krasnaya Polyana is one-third the size of France’s Les 3 Vallees, which is considered to be the biggest skiing area in the world. With 35 new swift ski lifts which reach 200 km of slopes offering easy runs through the majestic birch forests for beginners and superb heli-boarding and off-piste opportunities for advanced riders, along with great selection of accommodation and restaurants, modern security system and a wide range of services, this massive ski resort guarantees an incredible skiing experience for visitors of all ages and abilities. “The largest, snowiest nation on Earth now has a winter playground to rival the Alps.” News Corp Australia journalist at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics Anthony Sharwood remarked in his column.
There are three separate Olympic ski resorts in Kransnaya Plyana where you can enjoy winter-sports activities and ski the Olympic slopes: Rosa Khutor Alpine Resort, Mountain Carousel and Gazprom Mountain Resort.
Rosa Khutor Alpine Resort
Rosa Khutor is the largest of the 3 ski areas in Krasnaya Polyana. This is where alpine skiing, snowboard and freestyle Olympic events were held and the Olympic athletes’ village is situated. With world-class diverse infrastructure and amazing ski slopes designed by the globe’s leading experts, Rosa Khutor has everything you need for a memorable ski holiday. There are 77km of groomed trails of all difficulty levels served by 18 modern high-speed lifts (2 more are being prepared for launch) which can take you up to 1,534 m giving an incredible vertical descent. The resort offers a variety of zones and styles of skiing: freeride, freestyle, and on-trail skiing. The freeriding opportunities are truly impressive. The high-tech Europe’s biggest artificial snowmaking system ensures high-quality snow and increases the duration of the ski season upto 140 days a year.
This European style state-of-the-art resort boasts incredible panoramic views of the Greater Caucasus Range and the Black Sea. “It feels, and looks, like a cross between Whistler in Canada and one of the high altitude purpose-built resorts in France.” James Cove, described Rosa Khutor in his PlanetSKI article.
Services and facilities available at Krasnaya Polyana include: the Egorka Kids’ Club with special programs for children, an ice skating rink, a ski and snowboard school where individual and groups lessons are taught by experienced instructors, equipment rentals and a great choice of hotels and restaurants. Operating year-round, Rosa Khutor also offers summer activities for all ages, such as trekking, rock climbing, etc.
Gazprom Mountain Resort (Laura)
Located at Psekhako plateau at a height of 1,436 m (which is the highest peak of the resort), Gazprom was hosting the cross-country skiing and biathlon competitions for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. It is named after the state-owned Russian energy company OAO Gazprom, but unofficially it’s called Laura, which comes from the name of the local river. Laura is Vladmir Putin’s favorite ski resort, which makes it exclusive. No doubt that skiing its slopes will leave you with unforgettable impressions.
Accommodating up to 8,000 guests every day, this mountain tourist resort offers skiers and snowboarders amazing terrain parks with 16 downhill alpine ski slopes designed for different skill levels (blue, red, black and green). 15 km of ski tracks (Min track length – 350 m, max – 2,500 m) are kitted out with 6 ski lifts featuring the most modern technology and it takes only 12 minutes to be taken from the valley up to the top platform of the plateau (i.e. back to the resort) by the modern gondola lift, which is capable of taking 1,450 people per hour.
Some of the runs are equipped with additional illumination offering visitors a magnificent night skiing.
Services and facilities available at Laura ski resort include: equipment rental and purchase, multi-level car parking, cash points, snowmobile tours, changing rooms, a ski storage, service instructors, a kid’s club, boutiques of famous sports brands, a volleyball playground, tennis courts, conference halls, the five-star Grand Hotel Polyana, the four-star Peak Hotel, villas, the Mountain Shelter complex at Psekhako Ridge, The Chandelle Blanche Medi Spa & Beauty Salon and restaurants and bars offering a wide range of food and drinks.
Mountain Carousel (or Gornaya Karusel)
Mountain Carousel is the only ski resort which was opened to visitors during the 2014 Winter Olympics and is open to the public now. This sports and holiday complex meets the highest international standards of quality and comfort. The resort offers 20 km of pistes which suit both intermediate levels and experienced skiers, 19 state-of-the-art ski lifts, some of the most challenging skiing and off-piste terrain and magnificent 1,745 metres (5,725 feet) of vertical descent. Together with the splendid view of a mountain landscape, Mountain Carousel will give you unforgettable memories of your ski adventure.
Services and facilities available at the Mountain Carousel include: a ski school with highly-qualified instructors, rental of modern ski equipment, car parking, restaurants and bars, shops with souvenirs and goods for skiers and snowboarders, a water park, tennis courts, a doctor’s surgery, cafes and restaurants.
Krasnaya Polyana has a convenient location and is easily reachable by public transportation and car. “Few mountain resorts can boast a global airport with fast-train or highway connection within a 30-minute reach of the ski lifts, the beaches and rich cultural traditions. This Black Sea coast resort is also home to diverse southern cuisines, locally grown fruits and vegetables, and a mix of cultures dating back to more than 1,000 years.” Hotel News Now columnist Marius Gomola says about the Sochi ski resort. The 3 ski resorts are situated very close to each other and you can easily get between them by taxi in minutes if you decide to try out them all. However, you will need a different lift pass for each resort.
Go to Sochi in the Olympic 2014 year to see the spots where Games took place and breath-in the post-Olympic atmosphere of friendship and peace which reigned at the competitions. Besides, Sochi hides a plenty of other surprises and discoveries for those who would like to learn more of this south capital of Russia. It is the only large mountain area in Europe that has not experienced significant human impact; a city with an ancient history keeping strongly folk traditions and a cradle of a particular period in the Russian history – the Stalin times. It’s the perfect mix for winter sports addicts, culture vultures, and nature lovers.
This article was contributed by Alena Shmitova, a young writer from Raduzhniy, Russia.