As the clock ticks louder and the 2014 Sochi Olympics inch nearer, nature seems to be laughing at the prospect of a winter games in Russia’s southernmost mountainous region. On January 31, as Canada was days away from its Vancouver games, Sochi’s temperature hit 18.9° C (66° F), breaking the historical record for that date.
The region’s subtropical climate had given the International Olympic Committee pause when considering Sochi. But at the crucial May 2007 final presentations in Guatemala, then-President Vladimir Putin defended the city, personally assuring the jury that he had skied the slopes of Sochi’s Krasnaya Polyana just a week before.
Over the holidays this year, Putin and current President Dmitry Medvedev posed for pictures aboard a ski lift, holding government meetings in between runs down the slopes.
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