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Plausible winter games (Russia edition)


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With all of the Russian cities jumping on summer Olympic bids, I got to thinking, why not think about the Winter Olympics too?  With global warming, it is going to significantly hinder options.  This unfortunately, could very well include Sochi itself.  Fortunately for Russia, they still have lots of premium winter real estate to build.  Im just novice eyeballing this.  Assuming Sochi is not an option for a Russian WOG's going forward, what are some options for alternatives?  Ill propose some initial very novice looks and why they might make sense.

1)  Yekaterinburg/Urals.  No need to worry about the winter or mountains here.   Additionally, the stadium is already there from the World Cup.  2023 Universiade infrastructure will also be available as options too.  Probably the most realistic and cheapest "Sochi alternative" there is.

2)  Novosibirsk/Sheregesh.  Its a bit of a gap between Russia's third largest city and the ski resort, but in the new Olympic world, that isn't scary anymore.  The snow conditions are the apparently legendary, and would upgrade a ski resort that is just asking to get to the next level.  What is most needed?  The opening/closing ceremony stadium.  Areas east of the Urals have the feel of being neglected afterthoughts, and it could give an athletic stadium of significance to an area that has wanted one for a long time.  Could also be a hub for a potential Russian RPL/FNL team.  

to me, those are the two big obvious ones, but what about some potential outliers and the justification for each?

3)  Murmansk/Pechenga.  I know there are multiple things working against this.  First, the stark demographic decline.  People are leaving in droves for a multitude of reasons, and they have no reason to stay.  The Kremlin desperately wants to turn the tide here.  How do you do that?  By building more desirable commodities and better infrastructure, both things which Murmansk desperately needs.  Murmansk is boring.  It has nothing to pull people or tourists to it besides the northern lights.  It needs a focal point, and a stadium provided for opening/closing ceremony could do it.  Additionally, rich developers are looking to develop a deep-water port and ski resort near the Norwegian border at Pechenga (supposedly on a scale that can rival Sochi's offerings).  Finally, you absolutely under no circumstances have to worry about winter here.  

4.  Irkutsk/Sable Mountain.  Right near Lake Baikal, cant do much better in the way of scenery.  Baikal is an international world wonder and attraction.  It will be a big draw for tourists in Eastern Asia, and again give some good infrastructure projects to an area that could use some sprucing up (ski/snowboard riders seem to complain regularly of the lifts and how they could be upgraded).  The big question mark would be the stadium.  Irkutsk's soccer team is fledgling and multiple divisions below the top flight, but maybe it can give them the kickstart to develop something.  Plus, it gives a centerpiece to a city that could use one.  

5)  Khabarovsk/Kholdomi.  This is again an area of the country that feels it is forgotten by the Kremlin and could use some sprucing up and infrastructure.  Kholdomi looks like it could be the ski resort with the necessary specifications, and like Murmansk, could use a stadium as something of a rally point and centerpiece to the city (It did have a RPL until recently, and now it is a strong contender for promotion in the FNL).  I'm not sure they draw the people for this one, but maybe they can make it appealing to tourists from China and Japan?

I want to do something with Vladivostok, but it currently doesnt look like there are mountains/resort with the necessary elevation.

 

Thoughts?  Are any of these even remotely plausible beyond the first two?

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On 11/14/2021 at 5:34 PM, iceman530 said:

With all of the Russian cities jumping on summer Olympic bids, I got to thinking, why not think about the Winter Olympics too?  With global warming, it is going to significantly hinder options.  This unfortunately, could very well include Sochi itself.  Fortunately for Russia, they still have lots of premium winter real estate to build.  Im just novice eyeballing this.  Assuming Sochi is not an option for a Russian WOG's going forward, what are some options for alternatives?  Ill propose some initial very novice looks and why they might make sense.

1)  Yekaterinburg/Urals.  No need to worry about the winter or mountains here.   Additionally, the stadium is already there from the World Cup.  2023 Universiade infrastructure will also be available as options too.  Probably the most realistic and cheapest "Sochi alternative" there is.

2)  Novosibirsk/Sheregesh.  Its a bit of a gap between Russia's third largest city and the ski resort, but in the new Olympic world, that isn't scary anymore.  The snow conditions are the apparently legendary, and would upgrade a ski resort that is just asking to get to the next level.  What is most needed?  The opening/closing ceremony stadium.  Areas east of the Urals have the feel of being neglected afterthoughts, and it could give an athletic stadium of significance to an area that has wanted one for a long time.  Could also be a hub for a potential Russian RPL/FNL team.  

to me, those are the two big obvious ones, but what about some potential outliers and the justification for each?

3)  Murmansk/Pechenga.  I know there are multiple things working against this.  First, the stark demographic decline.  People are leaving in droves for a multitude of reasons, and they have no reason to stay.  The Kremlin desperately wants to turn the tide here.  How do you do that?  By building more desirable commodities and better infrastructure, both things which Murmansk desperately needs.  Murmansk is boring.  It has nothing to pull people or tourists to it besides the northern lights.  It needs a focal point, and a stadium provided for opening/closing ceremony could do it.  Additionally, rich developers are looking to develop a deep-water port and ski resort near the Norwegian border at Pechenga (supposedly on a scale that can rival Sochi's offerings).  Finally, you absolutely under no circumstances have to worry about winter here.  

4.  Irkutsk/Sable Mountain.  Right near Lake Baikal, cant do much better in the way of scenery.  Baikal is an international world wonder and attraction.  It will be a big draw for tourists in Eastern Asia, and again give some good infrastructure projects to an area that could use some sprucing up (ski/snowboard riders seem to complain regularly of the lifts and how they could be upgraded).  The big question mark would be the stadium.  Irkutsk's soccer team is fledgling and multiple divisions below the top flight, but maybe it can give them the kickstart to develop something.  Plus, it gives a centerpiece to a city that could use one.  

5)  Khabarovsk/Kholdomi.  This is again an area of the country that feels it is forgotten by the Kremlin and could use some sprucing up and infrastructure.  Kholdomi looks like it could be the ski resort with the necessary specifications, and like Murmansk, could use a stadium as something of a rally point and centerpiece to the city (It did have a RPL until recently, and now it is a strong contender for promotion in the FNL).  I'm not sure they draw the people for this one, but maybe they can make it appealing to tourists from China and Japan?

I want to do something with Vladivostok, but it currently doesnt look like there are mountains/resort with the necessary elevation.

 

Thoughts?  Are any of these even remotely plausible beyond the first two?

https://www.insidethegames.biz/articles/1102929/russia-preparing-2030-winter-olympic-bid

Can't say about the places listed above but the idea of a Bashkortostan bid probably centered in Ufa was mooted back in January. Nothing heard from since. I speculate that the ROC is probably full focused on a SOGs. Of the places above, Yekaterinburg is probably the most plausible given existing infrastructure and track record of hosting marquee sporting events. The others would require extensive investment in terms of sporting and transportation infrastructure which of course we know from Sochi that Putin and co. don't have a limit when it comes to spending.

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yeah that Ufa one was a weird flex, but hey, all is fun and well in a rhetorical discussion.  Also agree that the "in Russia, money is no hinderance" thing is still valid.  For a "woah, that was out of nowhere" bid to be truly successful and be a Cinderella story, I think two things need to happen.  One, it has to have the capacity for some economic upside and purpose, and two it needs to be somewhere that is the apple of Putin's eye.  Im trying to think of anything that could be truly eye catching for any of the "outside" bids.

 

For Irkutsk/Baikal, thats a strength and a weakness.  Its plus is also its minus.  This is a beautiful area (......well, Baikal is anyways, cant say much for Irkutsk lol), and while there may be some appeal to upgrade the tourist infrastructure (true its outdated and lodging and restaurants are pretty shabby), locals are already complaining that the region is unable to handle the capacity of Chinese tourists coming in and how its harmful to the lake itself.  Im sure this is partial xenophobia, but there is a valid argument lost in that shroud.  This would absolutely be a case of "if you build it, they will come".   I think if done correctly, the money funneled in could be used to maintain and upkeep the integrity of the lake.  Though, the inevitable Russian grifting would hurt that intended objective.

For Murmansk, its the economy stupid.  Putin and the Kremlin are throwing everything and the kitchen sink at the Kola Peninsula to see what sticks, and what DOES stick are economic projects.  The deep water port at Pechenga is something that is making investors salivate at, especially with the Northern Corridor becoming more appealing due to less icy conditions.  The potential developers also discussed the option of a ski resort at a "sochi scale" if given the go ahead.  Its also slightly less of a nightmare for travel for Europeans to get to (assuming olympic-like upgrades are seen at Murmansk/Pechenga).  But would the people come?  Is the appeal of riding under the northern lights more desirable than all the conveniences of Sochi?  I guess if global warming hits hard, it is an absolute ace in the hole to assure a winter resort.  If the Kola Peninsula is ever in danger losing out its winter, we're screwed and all probably dead at that point.  

Khabarovsk, there really not much to incentivize people to go there.  Thats what harms this bid.  It doesnt have a wonder of the world, nor does it have northern lights.  What it does have is close proximity to China, and that can make things logistically easier to funnel in Chinese tourists to that site (and Korean and Japanese).  Its a royal pain in the rear end for the consensus western world to get there, though.  Europeans, Australians, Canadians, Americans would be less keep to make that flight I think.  

 

Which would be the most daunting of these projects?  I am inclined to think Khabarovsk because while it does hold the  "strategic security" ploy for Putin's Far East plan, Khabarovsk isnt Vladivostok.  It isn't Russia's San Francisco, and it didn't get the pretty bridges and university projects that Asian Economic summits have brought.  Both Baikal and the Kola Peninsula have apple of Putin's eye capacity, and his love for especially Baikal is well known, and Kola probably a close second.  

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additionally, what location is most likely to have a mountain that is truly used by tourists.  Baikal has appeal because it can be a winter destination without the ski resorts, but will the ski slopes bring enough Chinese tourists or those from further afield?  The Japanese already have their excellent slopes, so probably discount much of that group.  Does a world class ski resort do much good there?  Would it get the access?  I do not know.  I'd like to think so.  If there is one thing that will modestly sting here, it is that the corona virus will be devastating to cultivate a winter sports market in China.  It takes away so many potential new fans, and that would include potential new skiers and snowboarders.  

What about Murmansk/Pechenga?  The Europeans have their alps.  I think this one gets its not for the true novelty standpoint.  It will peel off enough skiers and snowboarders because it would truly be something different.  I think it could also be a hit with the Scandinavians as well if done correctly from a marketing standpoint.  The check against, is of course the visa, which is just more red tape skiers and snowboarders for the most part dont want to deal with.......except the novelty guys.  So what about the Russians themselves?  can enough of them be peeled off from Sochi, the new playground?  Kola Peninsula certainly doesnt have Sochi sex appeal in summer or winter.  It has wilderness appeal.  I get the feeling it would always play second fiddle to Sochi.  Theyd have to build something gloriously extravagant to compete, but the investors supposedly have the pockets for it....  I think their passion lies primarily with the economics of the deep water port though.  The idea of building aircraft carriers again is appealing to the little judo champion, and that could have some sway as well.

 

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Alright, I researched the heck out of this today out of boredom at work and found a few more things, especially looking at this from a ski/mountain event perspective.

Long story short, the most viable candidate would not be Yekaterinburg/Urals as one might think.  It is actually Novosibirsk/Sheregesh (maybe Krasnoyarsk could replace Novosibirsk but it would make transit times longer).  The reason is simple; the Ural mountains actually arent big enough.  And that also eliminates Murmansk/Pechenga as well.  Kholdomi just gets gets too cold and lefts are shut down regularly due to wind, and the slopes themselves are........borderline (basically Beijing 2022 levels of uninteresting).   It would be a flex, but it can get to -20 to -30C for days on end regularly then.  That just wouldnt work out, so that hurts Khabarovsk.  Finally, Sable Mountain/Irkutsk.  There is actually a lot to like about that still, but I just dont want this one because Lake Baikal is already at its ecological breaking point as it is.  It is just such a fragile ecosystem that any Sochi-esque level of development could quite literally kill the lake if conducted as irresponsibly as it has been thus far.

As such, Novosibirsk/Krasnoyarsk-Sheregesh seems to be like the go-to Sochi alternative should winter no longer be feasible there.  Krasnoyarsk could work as a fallback option for ice events should Novosibirsk not fly for whatever reason (Russia's 12th largest city, population of 1.1 million), but it absolutely "option number two" because the distance travelled is much greater than from Novosibirsk.  Novosibirsk works for a winter games for so many reasons.  Its Russia's third largest city at 1.65 million.  It is waiting for it's moment to arrive on a bigger stage with not just Moscow and St Petersburg overshadowing it, but even Yekaterinburg.  It needs some of those big draws/infrastructure projects that it currently lacks.  It has a metro system that could handle an influx of people.  And yes, it gets quite cold in the winter, but this is for the ice events specifically.  Heck, the stadiums constructed for ice events would probably have more practicality there than many options west of the Urals.  Now onto Sheregesh.  Sheregesh is an extremely popular ski resort alternative to Sochi that Russians feel is cheaper and better value, and the snow conditions are what apparently puts it over the top for the purists.  People rave about the snow quality at this mountain and how much untapped terrain could be used for expansion.  Lifts can be 20 minutes ON WEEKDAYS, and 40 minutes on weekends, which indicates that there is plenty of room for legacy there.  

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