The Rosa Khutor alpine ski center is a year-round mountain resort, built from scratch in the mountains of Krasnaya Polyana in just 6 years, in record time!
The idea of building a world-class mountain ski resort in Russia first came up in 2002. However, Sochi's winning bid to host the 2014 Olympic Winter Games made Rosa Khutor one of the key venues of the Olympics, expanding the scope of the project and increasing funding for the project many times over.
In 2002 the Alpine World Ski Championships were held in Austria. Coincidentally, Vladimir Putin was there on a visit at the same time. The president and chancellor of Austria invited him to go skiing, and he, in turn, invited me and some other people to come along and keep him company.
“We started talking: why don't we have wonderful mountain resorts like this in our country? And so we began working on the idea of creating the Rosa Khutor resort. A well-known Canadian company helped us put the project together. They mentioned in passing that the area around Krasnaya Polyana is the best undeveloped site in the world. That meant it would be a sin not to develop it!”
Rosa Khutor's breakneck pace of construction made it the showcase of Olympic Sochi. No other mountain ski resorts of this caliber have been built in the past 20 or 30 years. It was here that the commission of the International Olympic Committee was brought from 2009 to 2011: at that time it was perhaps the only place where we could show them something beyond just blueprints, where they could see how the plans were being brought to life and developed. In September 2013, the latest round of IOC inspectors pronounced their final verdict: the venue was ready at last.
For athletes and fans, we have created an alpine ski center, a snowboard park and a freestyle center (combined together in the Extreme Park), an Olympic mountain village, a network of modern lifts, hotels, apartments, parking facilities, shops, and an indoor skating rink. Rosa Khutor is the biggest ski area in Russia, with one of the largest artificial snowmaking systems in the world, and a single finish line for alpine ski events in all Olympic disciplines.
“It probably wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that there is nothing like it in Russia, at least not thus far. A unique resort was built in just a few years. It's as if a piece of the Alps or another world-famous site was transplanted to Russia.”
March 8, 2014, the first Olympic contests were held in Rosa Khutor. Alpine skiers and snowboarders from different countries gave high marks to Rosa Khutor's courses for preparation, uniqueness, and difficulty.
Rosa Khutor Extreme Park hosted the first-ever Olympic events in such disciplines as slopestyle and half-pipe skiing. FIS Freestyle Coordinator Joe Fitzgerald called the Rosa Khutor snowboard park and freestyle center the best extreme park in the world.
All in all, Russian athletes won five Olympic and sixteen Paralympic medals on Rosa Khutor's slopes.
Rosa Khutor will start working at full capacity within two or three seasons of the Winter Olympics. What is now in store for the resort is a transformation from a ski venue to an all-season venue, and from a sports facility to a tourist resort.
“I don't plan to use this resort as a for-profit organization. I don't plan to turn Rosa Khutor into an organization that will bring profits to its stakeholders, but rather into something like a foundation, one that will contribute to the development of the resort itself, to its sports component.”
The resort was designed and built in line with environmental standards and in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund. Tens of thousands of trees were planted as part of compensatory environmental measures, members of rare amphibian species were relocated to areas not undergoing construction, and rare plant species were replanted in neighboring areas. Since 2007 Rosa Khutor and the WWF have been working on a project to restore the Persian leopard population in the Caucasus. In July 2013, the long-awaited leopard cubs were born in Sochi National Park, and they will be the founders of the new Persian leopard population.
Starting in 2011, test events in the pre-Olympic cycle were held in Rosa Khutor: events in the FIS European and World Cups in alpine skiing, snowboarding, and freestyle, as well as the IPC Alpine Skiing World Cup Finals and the Russian Paralympic Championship. It is expected that in addition to training runs for Russian skiers and snowboarders, Rosa Khutor will also play host to international-level competitions in the future.
ROSA KHUTOR IN THE SUMMER
In the summer of 2013, Rosa Khutor truly became a year-round resort. June 12, the aerial lifts, which had previously only been accessible to skiers, were opened officially to tourists. It turns out that a summer holiday in a mountain ski resort can be very interesting and rich. Summer activities include breathtaking hiking trails all the way up to the highest point in the Aibga Ridge, Kamenny Stolb, a peak 2509 m above sea level; a nearly1600-meter rock-climbing wall with five trails of various levels of difficulty; mountain biking; horseback riding; and even yoga on the terrace of the mountaintop restaurant Nebesa.
THE RESORT'S FUTURE
After the Olympics, Rosa Khutor will be transformed over the course of two to three years from a sports venue to a year-round tourist resort. This will require an additional investment of 4.5 bln rub. But even now Russia has gained the ability to host winter sports events at any level, and Russian athletes have finally been provided with a training ground. Rosa Khutor doesn't aim to become a commercial resort. The profits from the mountain ski resort will be channeled toward developing the resort itself and its sports component.