Another record-breaking facility opened for Sochi 2014
Located in the Western Caucasus – 60 kilometres from the Black Sea resort of Sochi, the venue will host the bobsleigh luge, and skeleton events for the 2014 Winter Olympics
At 1814 meters, it's the longest artificial track anywhere, and it was built in just two years.
The venue is unique for Russia. There have been just 14 tracks worldwide fully approved by the sports' international federation and the complex in Sochi becomes the newest.
The latest high-tech refrigeration technology will ensure accurate and constant monitoring of the temperatures along the entire sub-zero speedway.
“First we put ice on the tack and then we grind every centimetre to reduce friction and increase speed,” Viktor Pryadein, Olimpstroi Vice-President, said. “And only then the athletes start to slide down starting from the lowest mark gradually going up the track confirming its safety. And finally make starts from the very top.”
It's been designed for the three Olympic high-speed ice disciplines, with 16 turns and a maximum speed of around 135 kilometres per hour. That's a recent reduction however for safety reasons – a major issue now.
The athletes have already examined the run for the first time, ahead of a wide-ranging testing programme intended to avoid a repeat of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili’s fatal crash at the 2010 Games in Vancouver.
Russian bobsleigh athlete Irina Skvorstova suffered serious injuries after a collision with another competitor in Germany three years ago and was lucky to survive.
“Tracks now are built to mitigate risks but still the sport is dangerous and anything can happen,” she said. “And I think athletes' insurance should be improved. I wouldn't have been able to pay for my treatment with my insurance. Thankfully the German event hosts paid for my recovery.”
The Russian National Sliding Centre will become the training camp for all home athletes ahead of the Sochi Games, while the Russians are keen to start practicing as soon as possible to increase their chances of medals at the Olympics.
“Everybody really enjoyed the track,” Georgy Talipov, Russian luger, said. “The ice is top quality. The turns are smooth and safe. We have to start practicing right now, to explore every centimetre of it. We will prepare our sleds especially for this slope.“
The Sochi track is the first Russian slope to pass the first stage of certification and is ready to host international events and the athletes taking their first starts on the brand new track will be keeping in mind their probable biggest start in the sport – at the home Olympics in Sochi in just two years.