We are a mere 35 days (5 weeks!) from the Opening Ceremonies of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. I promised I would get you guys excited for these games, especially the hockey tournament. At this point in our countdown, I think it’s a good idea to familiarize ourselves with a few of the elements we will be seeing a lot of when the time comes. I’m talking about the venues and the medals.

The Olympics always bring host cities the difficult task of accommodating a venue for every event to take place, regardless of whether such a place exists yet. As such, these locations must be versatile enough for the host city to use again. The Ice Hockey competition will take place in two locations: The “Bolshoy” Ice Dome, and The “Shayba” Arena. Both are part of the complex of facilities operated by the International Ice Hockey Federation which also include a nearby training rink.

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Bolshoy Ice Dome

The Bolshoy Ice Dome’s design was inspired by a frozen drop. It will have a capacity of 12,000 seats, and after the Olympics it will function as a modern sports and entertainment center. The Shayba Arena is portable; after the festivities it can be dismantled and moved to another Russian city to be used as an Ice Palace. It can hold 7,000 people. The word “shayba” has significance as it means “puck” in Russian. Russians shout “Shaybu!” as a way to support their hockey teams at international competitions, so keep your ears open for the familiar Russian phrase next month.

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Shayba Arena

 

Olympic medals are always interesting. They tend to uniquely reflect something about the location of the games in their design. The 2014 medals are no exception.

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From www.olympic.org

The Sochi 2014 Olympic medals are truly unique and feature Sochi 2014’s “Patchwork Quilt” – a mosaic of national designs from the various cultures and ethnicities of the Russian Federation. The medals depict the landscape of Sochi, with the sun’s golden rays reflecting through a prism of snowy mountain tops onto the sandy beaches of the Black Sea coast. Made by skilled craftsmen from a combination of metal and polycarbonate, the medals have a sense of lightness and distinctive beauty, which will make it all the more special for the lucky athletes that get to take one home from the Games [this] year.

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The front of the medals feature the Olympic Rings, while the backs bear the name of the competition and the Sochi games logo. The official name of the games is engraved on the rim in Russian, English, and French.

It’s no secret that I am coveting the most precious medals of all for both the U.S. Men’s and Women’s Olympic teams. It is one of the greatest achievements in hockey and I am looking forward to a spirited competition from all countries involved. The first game for the men takes place on February 13, while the ladies begin on February 8. Both opening games will be held at Shayba Arena.

photos from www.olympic.org

Born in the “non-traditional” hockey market of South Florida, Elizabeth (Beth) quickly grew to love the sport at a very young age after her Buffalo-bred family introduced her to the Sabres. High school friends who didn’t care about hockey couldn't understand her withdrawals during the 2004-05 lockout, but college would bring a hockey loving boyfriend (and best friend) to whom she could finally relate. A South Florida native himself, and an avid Florida Panthers fan, he got her into the home team. Together they work for their college hockey club (the FAU Owls), broadcasting games. Beth is a huge USA Hockey fan and hopes to see them win Olympic gold in her lifetime. Between her 2 favorite NHL teams, her college squad, and USA Hockey, it's hard to tell which team she loves most, but she is passionate about them all.

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