With the 2014 Winter Olympics beginning in just one week, hundreds gathered in Sochi, Russia, on Jan. 30 to celebrate the official opening of the Mountain Olympic Village.
Dignitaries, volunteers and members of the media – including NBC 7 reporter Steven Luke – were invited to celebrate the official opening of the Mountain Olympic Village located on the northern slope of the Aibga Mountain Range.
The special residential compound in the mountain cluster area is one of three “villages” in Sochi where athletes will live during the games. It’s the biggest of the three villages, and will accommodate nearly 3,000 athletes and delegation members.
The athletes calling this particular village home include those competing in ski, bobsled, luge, ski jumping, Nordic combined and snowboarding events. The village will boast food, entertainment, games and activities highlighting Russian culture for its residents.
Olympian Svetlana Zhurova, who won a gold medal for Russia in speed skating in 2006, has been named mayor of the Mountain Olympic Village.
As an Olympian herself, Zhurova told NBC 7 that she knows how important it is to keep athletes comfortable while they are training and competing in the Olympics.
"The Olympic athletes have to be first, and I see athletes first here,” she said. “It's very important for us, for comfort, and to spend a good time here because they are training, they have tough competition. [They] have to rest.”
The other two villages in Sochi include the Usadba Coastal Olympic Village in the coastal cluster, home to 2,000 athletes and delegates, and the Sloboda Endurance Village, which will accommodate 1,000 residents. Those villages also officially opened on Jan. 30.
Random fun fact: each village has its own Olympic mascot.
The Mountain Village mascot is a Leopard, the Coastal Village mascot is a polar bear and the Endurance Village mascot is a hare.
After the Winter Olympics, the Mountain Village will be turned into a hotel or ski resort.