Awarding the Winter Olympics to a city with a subtropical climate, scant winter sports facilities, proximity to restive ethnic republics and a global recognition factor of zero was, if nothing else, a bold move. Vladimir Putin's assurances of a compact Games (mountain and coastal venues 30 minutes apart), ample snow and all-new facilities swayed the IOC. Now comes the test. Few visitors may opt to sightsee in a city under terrorist threat, but the IOC can still hope that Sochi's famed Friendship Tree, a grafting experiment that produces 45 types of citrus fruit, can yet become the unlikely symbol of these improbable Olympics.
FISHT OLYMPIC STADIUM | The $600 million, 40,000-seat roofed arena (named for a mountain in the Caucasus) will host ceremonies and anchor the Olympic Park cluster in Adler; in 2018 it will serve as a World Cup soccer venue.
BOLSHOI ICE DOME | NHLers and 38,000 colored LED roof lights will light up the site of the hockey finals.
ICEBERG PALACE | Icy blue glass panels give this figure skating and short-track speedskating venue its name.
PROTEST ZONE | No critical placards or gatherings are allowed except in a designated park in isolated Khosta. A Russian government permit also will be required.
MOSQUITO FISH STATUE | Tribute to a tiny species introduced in the 1920s to eat mosquito larvae and end the then-swampy city's rampant malaria.
WAX STALIN | Figure can be viewed at the 5'4" dictator's favorite dacha, open to tourists.
SANKI SLIDING CENTER | To avoid a repeat of the 2010 Games, when Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili suffered a fatal crash, the track has two uphill sections to slow sledders.
RUSSKI GORKI SKI JUMP | Women's event will debut at a venue plagued by mudslides and construction problems.
ROSA KHUTOR | Ten Alpine gold medals will be won on the Bernhard Russi-designed courses (top altitude: 7,600 feet) at this $2.2 billion resort; extreme sports will be held nearby.
[The following text appears within 2 maps. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual maps.]
TWO PHOTO ILLUSTRATIONS
PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY LYNNE CARTY (MAPS)
ERICK W. RASCO/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (BOLSHOI ICE DOME)
ERICK W. RASCO/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (MOSQUITO FISH)
NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/AFP/GETTY IMAGES (STALIN)
BOB MARTIN FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (RUSSIA GORKI)