At the turn of the 21st century, the Rosa Khutor alpine resort did not exist.
In just a few days, it will host the Winter Olympics.
And it will look splendid.
Much has been made of how Russian organizers basically built the Sochi Olympic venues from scratch (and how they continue to build it even this week), but from what I have seen, nowhere have they done so more impressively than in the mountains. Giant luxury hotels stand with gift shops and restaurants, including the most authentic Russian meal I have eaten so far. (Spoiler alert: it involved borscht.) They maneuver alongside a fast-moving stream that gives the area some natural charm.
Above all, of course, are the mountains.
The slopes of the Caucasus feature less snow than similar ones in Colorado and Utah, but they shine with white at the top. If the resort town’s buildings and shops all seem a little too pristine — a product, no doubt, of their youth — the mountains provide a much-needed roughness, an imposing edge.
See for yourself some of the highlights:
This is on the “ground level” of Rosa Khutor: a picturesque view, and one of my favorites.
Old mountains + new development = Olympics host venue.
Olympic signage is everywhere, but then again, what would you expect …
Much like any ski venue worth its salt (or, perhaps, worth its snow), some of the best views come from the gondola.
I felt pretty pleased atop the Olympic village. That’s because, minutes earlier, an Irish alpine skier traded me an Ireland Olympics pin. Score.
FOR MORE ON MY OLYMPICS JOURNEY: Checking out the coastal cluster
FOR MORE ON MY OLYMPICS JOURNEY: Arriving in Sochi, searching for sleep
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Matt Pearl is the author of the Telling the Story blog and podcast. Feel free to comment below or e-mail Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org.