1. A is for Advertising
NBC alone has already sold more than $1 billion in ads.
2. B is for Biathlon
Cross country skiing + shooting = your new favorite winter sport.
3. C is for Controversy
From obligatory doping revelations to controversial calls by judges to the anticipated political protests over Russia’s human rights record, Sochi is ripe for scandal.
4. D is for Dollar Dollar Bills Y’all
Russia has reportedly spent more than fifty billion dollars on the Games, the most expensive in history. It’d better be worth it!
5. E is for Emotions
I’ve never even been to the Olympics yet still remember the thrill of watching the 1992 Winter Games in Albertville, France. The USSR had just fallen apart, yet six of the countries came together to compete as one, one last time. Olympic athletes’ stories are as inspiring as their performances are unbelievable. Things will get emotional.
6. F is for Flame
The Olympic flame went on an epic journey for Sochi: 123 days, 65K km, 3K towns in 83 regions, 14K torchbearers. The North Pole and the International Space Station included in the trip for the hell of it. The flame arrives in Sochi on February 7.
7. G is for Gay
LGBT rights in Russia became one of the biggest international stories of 2013. Most Russian activists agree that boycotting the Winter Games was a terrible idea—instead they urge support and solidarity from the international community. In 2012, Krasnodar Krai—where Sochi is located—has adopted a regional ban on disseminating information among minors aimed at formulating skewed understanding about the social equivalence of nontraditional sexual relations. It’s as ambiguous and absurd as the 2013 federal law banning the propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors. Neither legislation has been used in Sochi, and likely won’t be applied any time soon, but the world is watching: popcorn- & twitter-ready.
8. H is for Hockey
You know you’ve been waiting impatiently for its return.
9. I is for Infrastructure
Sochi was the world’s biggest construction site: 15 modern venues, dozens of new hotels, top-notch telecom lines, new power plants, a light rail, new high-speed railways, a new airport terminal, and the world’s allegedly most expensive road. Wonder who built it all?
10. J is for Journalists
The Olympic Media Center has already opened in Sochi and will become home to The building, which total area is over 158 thousand square meters, is able to host more than 2,000 representatives of mass media accredited to cover the competition, as well as more than 6 thousand broadcasters. Of course, everyone is a journalist these days: expect lots of tweets, status updates, and instagrams from Sochi.
11. K is for Krasnaya Polyana
The ski resort town of Krasnaya Polyana will host all the key battles in skiing and snowboarding.
12. L is for Live Stream
NBC’s coverage of the Olympics will improve drastically this year because they will live stream everything (except for the opening ceremony!). The world is way ahead though: BBC, for example, will have Six HD streams across digital platforms with 650 hours of live action of every moment of Sochi 2014.
13. M is for Mascots
The 2014 Winter Olympic mascots are the Amur Leopard, the Polar Bear, and the European Hare.
The Paralympic Games’ mascots are the Ray of Light & the Snowflake.
14. N is for New
Twelve winter sports events will make their debuts on the Olympic program in Sochi. Ski halfpipe? Team figure skating? Snowboard parallel slalom? Can’t wait!
Athletes from Malta, Paraguay, Timor Leste, Togo, Tonga and Zimbabwe are expected to compete in Winter Olympics for the first time.
15. O is for Old
These games will be the last for many renowned athletes. The second most decorated Winter Olympian of all time, Norway’s Ole Einar Bjørndalen will seek to improve his toll of 11 medals. Russia’s Evgeni Plushenko took silver or gold in three consecutive men’s figure skating competitions, and will skate again. They will retire after these Games. Vladimir Putin won’t.
16. P is for Paralympics
Pussy Riot’s and Putin’s brands cancel each other out, so P stands for the Paralympic Games, which you should definitely watch in March. The program will include alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, ice sledge hockey, and wheelchair curling.
17. Q is for Quilt
The Olympic patchwork quilt, developed by BoscoSport, will be the official look of Russia’s first Winter Games.
18. R is for Russia
There’s no place like home, in winter.
19. S is for Subtropics
Sochi’s humid subtropical climate with mild winters make it the warmest city to have hosted the Winter Olympics. No worries though, there’ll be plenty of snow in the mountains.
20. T is for Terrorism
Terrorism remains the biggest threat to the Olympic Games, in Russia and everywhere else. This week, six bodies were found in abandoned cars in a region near Sochi, only a week after two bomb attacks in Volgograd killed more than 30 people. Security concerns are rising.
21. U is for Unbelievable
Everything is going to be higher, faster, stronger than last time. Prepare to be thrilled.
22. V is for Visa
The Russian Foreign Ministry said foreigner spectators can obtain same-day entry visas to Russia, so your last-minute impulse to go to the Games faces no obstacles. Load up your plastic visa before you travel.
24. X is for XXII
The 22nd Winter Games’ opening ceremony is scheduled for February 7. An estimated 2,500 athletes representing more than 88 countries will compete in Sochi’s 98 events in 15 sports.
25. Y is for Yours
“Hot. Cool. Yours.” is the Games’ official slogan.
26. Z is for Zoich
Zoich (ZOIЧ) was a proposed mascot for the XXII Winter Olympics which had initially won the online poll though the selection committee did not put it through to the final round of voting. Zoich’s counter-culture appealed was all but shattered when it was revealed that it was the government-run organizing committee that commissioned the mock mascot in the first place.
27. Russia is ready.
The world’s biggest country and fifth largest economy can’t wait for the Games. It’s going to be alright.
29. Who’ll bring these home?
A record 1,300 medals, 0.4 inches thick + 4 inches in diameter, are being manufactured for the Olympics and Paralympics. The medals depict the sun’s rays reflecting through a prism of snowy mountains and sandy beaches.