Sochi is not the most obvious place to host the Winter Olympics.
The Russian resort, on the eastern shore of the Black Sea, is humid and subtropical. Temperatures average out at about 52 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter, and 75 degrees in the summer. Palm trees line the streets, and it’s the only part of Russia warm enough to grow tea leaves. In other words, it’s a lovely spot if you’re planning a beach holiday — Stalin had his favorite summer house there — but it wouldn’t be most people’s first choice for a ski trip.
“There is almost no snow here — at the moment it’s raining,” says Olga Mironova, a local resident. That’s exactly the problem that derailed the last Winter Olympics in Vancouver in 2010 — buckets of snow had to be airlifted to top up the slushy covering on the hay bales that were being used to create artificial mounds in the tracks. Those emergency measures proved successful, but organizers admitted afterwards that they’d seriously underestimated the impact of climate change. READ MORE