In just 17 days, an estimated 3 billion eyes will be on Sochi. Are you ready to watch ski racing in Russia? Rosa Khutor is Russia's new ski resort specifically built for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.
Some Rosa Khutor stats for you: the new Russian ski resort offers 5,725-feet of vertical from a 7,612-foot summit, making it one of the biggest lift-served ski resorts anywhere (compared to Whistler Blackcomb's 5,020-feet vertical and Zermatt Switzerland’s 7,447-feet). Located in the Krasnaya Polyana region, just 30 miles from Sochi and the Black Sea, it’s a 30-minute ride on the brand new $8 billion train. The Russians have invested heavily in Rosa Khutor ski resort (estimates are at over $2 billion) which so far has 10 lifts and 73 kilometers of ski trails.
Rosa Khutor's ski resort construction started in 2003 with input from Vladimir Putin - a self proclaimed "expert skier", and Roger McCarthy - former Vail Resorts developer. Eight years later Rosa Khutor opened for skiing and hosted its first World Cup alpine race in February 2012. The Winter Olympic alpine ski events begin here February 7, 2014, with Downhill, Combined DH and Slalom, Giant Slalom and Super Giant Slalom alpine skiing. The Sochi Downhill course, designed by the legendary 1972 Olympic Gold medalist Bernhard Russi, drops 2.17 miles from 6,709-feet a full 3,500-vertical feet with several 40 degree pitches.
Rosa Khutor’s Extreme Park will host Sochi’s Olympic Snowboarding and Freestyle Skiing competitions, located on the west side of the ski resort. This XXII Winter Games marks the official debut for Ski and Snowboard Slopestyle, Ski Halfpipe, and Women's Nordic Ski Jumping as medal sports. Nordic events will be hosted at Psekhako Ridge, four miles from Rosa Khutor, also built uniquely for the Olympics and opened in 2008.
Snow has been good this season in Krasnaya Polyana, Rosa Khutor is reporting a 59 inch base, conditions are backed by the biggest snowmaking system on the globe at $100 million, so the Winter Olympics should be white in the mountains just 30 miles from the Russian Riviera of Sochi.
Rosa Khutor is Russia's largest ski resort with a brand new ski village of high rise ski hotels, bars (presumably pouring lots of native vodka), an indoor ice rink, and signature clock tower. Surely, Russia hopes Rosa Khutor becomes a popular ski resort post games, but for now it’s all about showcasing their coveted, costly Olympics.
More firsts this Olympics: Moguls skiing and Snowboard slopestyle will kick off Feb 6, the evening prior to Sochi's Opening Ceremonies. Events will be streamed live, instantaneously on line via NBC. Also every athlete will be provided a Samsung Galaxy smartphone and encouraged to tweet, facebook and share their experience via social media. Game on. Go Team USA.
Photos courtesy of Rosa Khutor Ski Region
Eric Wilbur is a lifelong recreational skier who spends most of his winter and spring in the mountains of New England. He does not ski in jeans. You can read more of Eric's work here.
Heather Burke is an award winning ski journalist with over a decade of ski news coverage. As a former ski instructor and a ski parent, she knows the ski biz from the inside out. She and her family visit New England ski resorts, as well as the West and Canada, to report on the latest trends and their best family finds. Her husband Greg takes all the accompanying photos, and their work can be seen at www.familyskitrips.com and www.luxuryskitrips.com.