Celebrations for 500 days to the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi took place right across Russia
On September 25th, Russia reached its latest Olympic milestone: there are now exactly 500 days until the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, the first in Russia’s history. Various sports and music events were held in 17 Russian cities. The culmination of the celebrations was all-Russia national flashmob, the main participants of which were the Sochi 2014 volunteers drawn fr om the 26 Volunteer Centers, representing 14 of the country's regions. At the squares, stadiums and indoor sports complexes in their respective cities, more than 12,000 volunteers participated in the construction of giant Olympic pictograms, having collected a total of all 22 images of Olympic sports.
In addition to the flashmob, symbolic 500 meter relays representing the winter Olympic sports, were held in the nation’s cities. The idea had been proposed by Margarita Zharkova and Andrei Botsulko from the Sochi 2014 Volunteer Training Center at the Kuban State Technological University. Their idea had been selected by the competition commission of the All-Russian Contest "Scenario for a city event: 500 days to the Games".
In each city the relay was dedicated to a different type of sport. In Moscow, in an imitation of ice hockey, participants completed the relay in hockey helmets on roller blades; the challenge was to avoid obstacles while they were skating, keeping possession of the ball with a hockey stick and taking their shots at the center of the track. In Sochi, the participants of the relay demonstrated "snowboarding", covering a set distance on skateboards and passing each other the relay baton. In Volgograd, speed skating was imitated on roller skates; and in Novocherkassk, “bobsleigh” team members completed an obstacle course using cones on a longboard.
The culmination of the celebration was the national flashmob, the main participants of which were more than 12 thousand Sochi 2014 volunteers. At the squares, stadiums and closed sports complexes, they demonstrated a total of 22 giant Olympic pictograms, symbolizing all the Olympic Winter sports. Each pictogram was made using square blue-white shields that the volunteers held above their heads, turning around and combining them on the command of the event director.
The largest-scale flashmob was held in Krasnodar, wh ere 2,000 Sochi 2014 volunteers formed 5 pictograms on Theater Square: "Bobsleigh", "Skeleton", "Cross-country skiing", "Freestyle cross-country skiing" and "Ski Jumping". Moscow was in second place, 1,600 volunteers completing 4 pictogram puzzles at the All-Russian Exhibition Center: "Speed Skating", "Figure Skating", "Half-pipe Snowboarding" and "Snowboard Cross". In 13 other cities, each group of volunteers completed one pictogram each, symbolizing an Olympic Winter sport.
In several cities, relays and flashmobs were accompanied by the performances of musical and dance groups as well as children's entertainers.
The President of the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee, Dmitry Chernyshenko, said:
“We have reached another significant milestone: there are now only 500 days remaining until the XXII Olympic Winter Games. In fact, we have entered the finishing straight in our preparations for this extremely important event in Russia's history. I'm glad that this celebration has managed to involve, both in terms of spectacle and the scale, the whole country into Games preparations."