Snow a Premium in Sochi Ahead of Winter Olympics

The opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Sochi is just days away and, as of this morning, there is not a snowflake in sight. Most people imagine Russian as one never-ending polar vortex where everyone's forced to swaddle themselves in fur just to stay alive. But it turns out that today, Sochi has more in common with Atlanta than an icy tundra.

Yep, that's right, Atlanta. Both cities currently have temperatures hovering around 45°F. (Maybe Atlanta should put in a bid to host a winter games?) Fortunately, the outdoor events are being held in a mountain resort 48 kilometers away, where officials say enough snow has fallen to produce ideal conditions for alpine events. Should the powder start looking a little thin on the ground, top-of-the-range snow-making equipment is waiting in the wings.

Making snow is not an easy business. So far the Sochi snowmakers (is that the coolest job title ever, or what?) have transformed about 230 million gallons of water into snow. This adds to the 650,000 cubic yards of last year's snow they have stashed under insulated blankets ready to transport to the pistes in case of emergency.

But the weather is not the only potential hurdle that needs to be overcome. According to the New York Times, there is still an awful lot of construction left to be completed before the opening ceremony. The majority of the venues for the sporting events are running on schedule, but the same cannot be said for the public accommodations.

Breakfast is available in Building 10. But not only is Building 10 hard to find, there is no evidence that it houses a restaurant. The place, which has no name, makes subterranean hipster bars in Brooklyn seem desperate for attention. You figure out that you’re in the right place only by walking around Building 10 a few times and spotting, through a window, a woman in an apron.

On the way in, you see a man on a ladder, fixing something. This is a common sight: Last-minute touch-ups have been a feature of Olympic Games for seemingly as long there have been screwdrivers. But the list in Sochi seems extraordinarily large. There are unopened boxes of heating and air-conditioning parts and other essential hardware all over the place. On Sunday, a man in a lobby was drilling into a ceiling, working above and just to the left of a blinking Christmas tree.

Chicago Tribune reporter Stacy St. Clair tweeted yesterday that the situation in her hotel room was less than ideal.

It'll be interesting to see how that goes. I'd also love to be a fly on the wall when the enormous ice-hockey players find out that this is where they'll be sleeping.