Sochi Residents Predict Plenty of Snow During the Olympics (RTV/CBS)
Sochi residents and frequent visitors have no concern about a shortage of snow for the Winter Olympics in February.
Unusually warm temperatures last winter prompted organisers of Russia's first post-Soviet Olympics, and first Winter Games, to store about 450,000 cubic metres (16 million cubic feet) of snow in the mountains just in case.
On Saturday (January 18) however, just 20 days before the opening ceremony, slopes were covered with a thick layer of snow at the mountain resort of Mountainous Carousel just a few kilometres away from the Olympic biathlon track in Krasnaya Polyana.
"I think there will be snow, in any case it will remain until February, there will be snow by the ski-jump, there is lots of snow there already," said Tatiana Kopylova, a Sochi resident, who works as a cleaning lady at one of sport and tourist centres in the mountains.
"Usually in February there is always snow, and it falls, so there is no need to worry. I have been working and skiing here for the past four years and February is the best time," said another Sochi resident Sergei Kopylov heading up in a cable car to ski.
The slopes where ski races and other mountain events will be held, high above the sub-tropical Black Sea shore, should have two to seven metres (6.5 to 23 feet) of snow, predicted Rosgidromet state forecasting.
Yuri Preidakov, from the Black Sea town of Novorossiisk, comes to Sochi almost every winter to ski. He is convinced there will be plenty of snow in the mountains during the Olympics, maybe even too much.
"There will be enough snow, it would be good if there is not too much snow. I can tell that there is so much snow here that it is hard to ski not to say to hold competition, so the main problem is a lot of snow," Preidakov said.
For Maria Kovalenko from Moscow - a beginner in snowboarding - there is just enough snow to dig into if she falls.
"You know I am such an inexperienced snowboarder, it is just fifth time I am doing it, so I cannot judge the level of snow, but for me it is enough, it's nice to dig into it," she said.
According to meteorologists, avalanches and poor visibility and not the lack of snow could be a problem for the Sochi Olympics. Avalanches are common in winter and emergency services in Russia fire artillery rounds at the slopes to force the packed snow to come down safely. Visibility can be limited by low clouds.
Just 65 kilometres away from the snowy mountain slopes in downtown Sochi, the weather feels like spring with sunny weather and the temperature nine degrees above zero.
Sochi Games chief Dmitry Chernyshenko has said the weather is viewed as a bigger potential problem for the organisers than security or infrastructure of a Games that has cost Russia around $50 billion.
Sochi residents and regular visitors predict good weather for the Olympics and say there is plenty of snow in the mountains.
Olympic Torch in Volgograd (CNN)
The Olympic torch relay has just reached Volgograd where twin suicide bombings killed more than 30 people last month.
The police presence there right now is staggering as the Olympic flame winds its way through the streets of the city.