Monday, February 3, 2014

Sochi Olympics Preview

The Winter Olympics start on Thursday, and Sochi's organizing committee is hard at work racing to complete hotels that look like they won't be even close to ready by the time everyone leaves (three of which are among the nine hotels slated for the media); hoping people are so jacked for the Olympics that they don't notice that the hotel rooms are worse than your random roadside motel, killing stray dogs that are proving rather hard to catch; altering the snowboarding course after Torstein Horgmo of Norway, a six-time X-Games medalist (3 gold, 3 silver) and one of the favorites in Sochi, crashed out of the Games with a broken collarbone on a practice run; arresting activists for swearing at a bus stop and giving them sentences that last until the Games are mostly over; blocking gay dating apps; and wondering what the hell they're going to do about all this mud where there ought to be snow.

The fog that cancelled a practice downhill run, though, is a bit of a pickle. One way fog can form is when warm, moist air moves over a cold surface such as snow or ice. Sochi is in the Krasnodar region, the warmest part of Russia, with the average temperature in February being 43 degrees. A city that can support palm trees is going to have a lot of warm air coming. A city on the Black Sea coast will have moist air coming. It's not hard to figure out what the snow-based events will be fighting a whole bunch, especially as this year specifically has the forecast being in the high 30's at the base of the mountains at the Opening Ceremony and warming as the Games proceed.

When you really, really want there to be snow when there is none, you can make snow and pile it on the hills. When you really, really do not want there to be rain, there's the option of trying to seed the clouds to it rains somewhere else, though its effectiveness is debatable. Fog, though, that's something nobody's figured out how to get rid of. It doesn't matter how many billions of dollars you spend; with current technology, if there's fog, all you can do is wait it out.

Oh, we are in for a goat rodeo, aren't we.

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