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  • On the Scene - Vancouver Passes to Sochi


    The snow of winter still clings to the peaks of the Krasnaya Polyana. (ATR)
    (ATR) Vancouver is ready to pass the baton on to the Sochi Olympics. An intense four-day debrief from Vancouver opens Monday in the mountains that will host the 2014 Winter Games.

    The traditional post-Games debrief includes all the leading players in the Vancouver and Sochi Games.

    VANOC President John Furlong leads the delegation of 35 executives from Vancouver, while Dmitry Chernyshenko heads the team from Sochi that will number into the hundreds.

    IOC President Jacques Rogge will offer the keynote for the debrief Monday afternoon before heading out to see Prime Minister Vladimir Putin at the Russian leader’s Sochi getaway.

    After arriving Sunday evening he immediately went to the Olympic Park venues being constructed minutes away from the airport.It's his second visit to Sochi since it won the Games in 2007.

    Along with IOC staff, the seven federations on the Winter Sports program also take part in the debrief.

    International Ice Hockey Federation President Rene Fasel will play a prominent role in the debrief as chair of the IOC Coordination Commission for Vancouver; so will his Sochi counterpart, Jean-Claude Killy.

    Upcoming Olympic cities London and Rio de Janeiro also have sent delegates to Sochi.

    The three cities hoping to host the 2018 Winter Games -- Annecy, Munich and PyeongChang -- are attending as observers.

    The debrief involves 30 presentations on the operational concerns of the Games.

    Based on the experience of Vancouver 2010, lessons about dealing with weather may be relevant. The absence of snow at the freestyle and snow board venue at Cypress was one of the most vexing last-minute issues for VANOC.

    After the outpouring of crowds in the center of Vancouver and the alpine village of Whistler, Sochi will be looking for tips on how to create the same sort of atmosphere with the city center far-removed from any Olympic venues.

    Others at the debrief include execs from ticket and Olympic travel experts Jet Set Sports, as well as other representatives from the Olympic marketing world.

    Vancouver Passes to Sochi signs are everywhere, from the airport baggage claim to billboards around Sochi. (ATR)
    /> While the Winter Games are the subject of the debrief, the weather outside the Grand Hotel Polyana is summer in full bloom. Even in this mountain retreat, temperatures will rise to near 30C this week.

    The hotel is located in Krasnaya Polyana, the center of the ski and sliding events for the 2014 Olympics. The ice events are 40 minutes to the south at the Olympic Park under construction on the Black Sea coast. Cement trucks
    ATR's Ed Hula at the entrance to the Sochi Olympic Park. (ATR)
    and other construction vehicles ply the two-lane highway day and night, seven days a week. Along with Olympic venues in the mountains, a new light rail line is being built and the road is being widened in some stretches.

    The event has drawn just a handful of foreign media: along with Around the Rings there are two reporters from Canada and one from the U.K. Major wire services are expected to cover the open of the debrief Monday and the subsequent meeting with Putin.

    Sochi media handlers plan to keep the small group occupied with visits to the Olympic venues and the center of Sochi.

    A press conference is set for Thursday afternoon at the close of the debrief.

    Monday morning the IOC President will take a look at a snow leopard exhibit. Prime Minister Putin is leading efforts to restore the big cat to the Caucasus Mountains; two of them were set into the wilds of the Sochi National Forest last year.

    This weekend in Sochi as part of World Environment Day, Sochi 2014 CEO Chernyshenko and Sochi Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov planted trees as part of the United Nations goal to plant one billion trees around the world.

    Written and reported by Ed Hula in Sochi.

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