BOSTON (CBS) — Opening Ceremonies for the XXII Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia take place Friday, so let the pageantry begin.
There are twelve more medal competitions planned for these games than in Vancouver, four years ago, 98 in all. David Wallechinsky, President of the International Society of Olympic Historians, says these games already are the most expensive Winter Games ever.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Mary Blake reports
“To give you some perspective, the Vancouver Games cost $8 billion to put on, to create the venues and to run the games. The estimated price tag for the Sochi Games is $50 billion , so we’re talking 600-percent more. There’s no reason why that should be, other than corruption, and to some extent, incompetence in the way things were organized,” Wallechinsky explains.
He also says the Sochi Olympics are very much the “Putin Games.”
“It’s one of his signature projects, and so if the Sochi Games are a success, he will claim it’s his success. I don’t think he’s so concerned about how he will be viewed outside of Russia, but he’s very concerned about how he will be viewed by the Russian people,” says Wallechinsky.
Wallechinsky also finds Sochi an odd choice.
“Sochi is the warmest place in Russia.” He continues, “It is worth noting, however, that there’s been an increasing trend to hold the Winter Olympics in large cities, because the indoor events like figure skating, speed skating, ice hockey, curling, it doesn’t really matter how cold it is outside since you are holding the events inside.”
In fact, Reagan Carey, General Manager of the USA Women’s Hockey Team says her team is looking to warm up in Sochi.
“There are palm trees there and that’s a good sign when we’re talking climates,” she says. “There were not a lot of palm trees in the places we’ve played recently, so it’ll be nice to go to Russia and actually get warm, a little bit,” she laughs.
The USA Women’s Hockey Team has been practicing in Bedford and Belmont and training on the ice, two hours a day. Head Coach Katey Stone also coaches women’s hockey at Harvard.
“The team’s doing great. We like where we are right now. They’ve been working really hard and there has been unbelievable buy-in by all the players, so I think everyone is itching to get going, really,” she says. A number of the team members are from Boston. Captain Megan Duggan grew up in Danvers. Coach Stone describes her as a natural leader.
“She works consistently hard, everywhere. She even sprints from the bench to get a drink of water,” laughs Stone. “So, first and foremost she is a great example, and she’s not afraid to have a tough conversation with someone when it needs to happen or be a little unpopular when that could present itself. Everybody just has tremendous respect for her. She’s easy to get behind as a leader,” says Stone.
Duggan says being Captain adds a little more weight on one’s shoulders, but she calls it an incredible honor.
“I’ve been working really hard to put myself in a position to make this team and I just want to continue to work hard for the team moving forward, do anything I can, lead by example on and off the ice and be what the girls need when the times get hard,” Duggan says.
Molly Schaus is another Bostonian. Her family lives in Natick and she plays goalie.
“I’ve been playing hockey since I was 7 or 8 years old. I always played goalie because my two older brothers stuck me in net when I was a little kid and said ‘if you want to stick with us you’ve got to play goalie.’ And I said ‘Why not, I really want to play with you guys.’ It’s worked out well, I’m 25 years old now and still playing,” Shaus says.
Boston Blades forward Hilary Knight is originally from Sun Valley Idaho, but attended prep school locally and gives a big shout out to Boston.
“We’re amazing athletes. We’re just as skilled as the men, if not more skilled in some areas. We’re strong, we’re fast, we’re competitive, we’re physical , and we’re attractive,” she laughs. “Come watch us.”
Wallechinsky says the USA Women’s Hockey Team is definitely on his list of Americans to watch in Sochi.
“They look very strong, and you expect it to be between the United States and Canada. The U.S Team has done very well in the run up to the Olympics, so watch out for the American women in hockey, ” he says.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Mary Blake will be previewing the Olympic Games in her series ‘Going For Gold’ all week. You can catch her reports on WBZ NewsRadio 1030 at 6:55 a.m., 12:25 and 5:55 p.m.