“It was pure adventure.” 10 years ago Sochi won the Olympics

Text: Eugene Slyusarenko
From www.championat.com

Sochi 2014

Photo: RIA Novosti

Exactly 10 years ago, July 5, 2007, at three o’clock in the morning Moscow time President Zhak Rogge of the International Olympic Committee, slowly got up on stage Real Intercontinental Hotel in Guatemala City, opened the envelope and said one word: “Sochi”. For the first time Russia won the right to host the Winter Olympic Games. Neither refers to this event after so many years, one thing is clear: this was a great night, which went down in history of Russian sports.

Sochi 2014

Zhak Rogge
Photo: Reuters

Deputy chief editor of “Championship” Eugene Slyusarenko found the perfect companion for a date: Elena Anikin, chairman of the bid committee “Sochi-2014” – a man who had to request our city most directly related to the time of the next occurrence of this seemingly fantastic and unrealistic undertaking: hold the winter Olympics in the subtropics.

Sochi 2014

Photo: From personal archive Eleny Anikinoy

“What might be the mountain in Yasnaya Polyana?”

– In the spring of 2005, I heard about the next, the third in 15 years, the idea to file an application for the Sochi Winter Olympics and reacted like most: “Again? It’s not funny anymore”. Sochi tried to push in Soviet times, and in modern Russian, and it is always perceived as an anecdote. 
– When they say about some pre-thought-out and implement a plan of the state – all this is not true. More precisely, it was, but only then. But first there was an old dream, Vladimir Potanin – to make our country a world-class ski resort. I remember this historic meeting in his office: an inspired something Svetlana Guryev (among other things, the legendary character – in the late ’60s, she wrote an article which predicted the Games in Sochi!), Then president Leonid Russian Olympic Committee Tyagachev itself Potanin. We talked and decided: everything necessary to build a ski resort. I was attracted to this project as the administrative director of “Interros” and my responsibilities included including construction projects. And yet, as you might guess, I did not understand that – and in ski resorts, and sports in general. I do until the moment was totally unsportsmanlike person. When uttered at the meeting: “Krasnaya Polyana”, I did not understand, and even thought, “Hmm, Yasnaya Polyana Leo Tolstoy … … What can there be mountains?”.

– That is the idea of the Olympic Games in Sochi there was then? 
– No. It is about 2004, was ahead of many more steps. First, we commissioned a study from the Canadian company Ecosign – whether it is possible in the mountains of Sochi to build something? For a whole year they studied these places in different seasons, made their calculations and at the end we got four huge volumes of research materials. And the conclusion: yes, you can build a ski resort. Best place – Engelmanova glade. But this national park. Number two on the priorities – Rosa Khutor. It was the final presentation, made her head Ecosign Pol Metyuz, and it was then that Potanin and head of Rossport Vyacheslav Fetisov asked: “Is it possible there to hold the Winter Olympics?”. Mathews took three more months, investigated the possibility of the construction of the bobsleigh track and other mining facilities and gave an affirmative answer. 2005 year. That’s when everything started to happen.

Sochi 2014

Keychain with the Sochi 2002 logo, left over from a failed bid mid-90s
Photo: Boris Valiev, Facebook

– It is believed that the application gave impetus to Russian President Vladimir Putin immediately interested in the project. 
– It’s not quite true. Of course, with him the topic bid of Sochi was agreed. But an active and public participation of the President of the country began a little later and, indeed, without his support we would have hardly won. In the meantime, it was necessary to form a bid committee and choose a leader. The first candidate on whom we some time to navigate, was Dmitry Svatkovsky – our Olympic champion in modern pentathlon, director of application committee “Moscow-2012”. Honestly, they and Alexander Chernov – my first teacher in the bidding process, to which I have very little sense in these matters. But then Dima has changed plans and came candidacy of Dmitry Chernyshenko. She asked if I am not mistaken, Fetisov. Chernyshenko at that time was at the hearing as a young and successful organizer of sports marketing activities, a successful businessman. Potanin has asked to meet with him, and Dima came to me for an interview. Now it is, of course, sounds funny.

– And he has seemed to you? 
– Dima impressed with their high level of organization and “Western” approach and image. For an interview he had come fully prepared, with a laptop, with figures and graphs in English. For those times it was unusual. Immediately it became clear that we can get a professional person from the business world. Potanin and Fetisov immediately made him a bet, Tyagachev and then Mayor of Sochi Viktor Kolodyazhny had a little convincing. Chernyshenko became CEO, I – Chairman of the Board. Dima has assembled a team of enterprising young guys who worked fantastically during the entire bidding process.

“Samaranch said:” It is unlikely that you will win “

– You will then understand that the jump into a project that simply have no chance? 
– Then – no. Now, of course, I understood that it was a pure gamble. If to me now someone has come to such a bid, I would have laughed. Helped, ironically, my poor familiarity with the Olympic theme at the time. Plus the consistency and professionalism Chernyshenko and his team. Well and enthusiasm – that we all have enough.

– Did someone say you can not win in two years nothing can be done? 
– I remember we had a meeting with Juan Antonio Samaranch, who, though by that time had not served as president of the IOC, but had a tremendous impact on all processes. He was always the most sympathetic attitude to our country, and it was important to know his opinion. Samaranch had said: “It is unlikely that you will win. Most likely, the 2014 Games will receive Salzburg, they have almost everything ready. Let this application will exercise for you, but in four years will have a chance. ” We, of course, wilted, knowing that Samaranch speaks correctly and to the point. So we decided to just go step by step. To begin with – to get from an expanded list of applicants shortlisted candidates. At least not lose its neighbors – Almaty and Borjomi. Although it was not easy – we walked in until the end of the informal ratings is not the first places. Happened. Phew, breathed, moved on.

– In 2006-2007, in Sochi on the site of the future Olympic venues was not literally nothing, emptiness. What you showed to members of the IOC Evaluation Commission, and other professionals who regularly come there? 
– You are right, in the mountains in many places there were only goat paths and walking cows. For a while, we just drove people by helicopter from above showed: that here and there will be, as they say, the garden city. During the visit of the evaluation commission something veiled banners, even portrayed operating the airport, which worked is not at full capacity. We are “selling” an illusion, a dream, almost staged in the theater – is now something about it can safely be said. However, members of the IOC Evaluation Commission still well understood and seen. After we became candidates, he came up to us IOC member Gunilla Lindberg of Sweden, it is the business and professional woman, and said sternly: “Now it’s time to start working in earnest.”

– Well, that could be done for the rest of the year before the election? 
– Well, at least to build a representative housing in the mountains, where you can invite guests. Potanin personally decided and financed the construction of the chalet, it is still standing there, during the Games there was a center of bobsled. We called him “Tyrolean house” because it has built an Austrian company. Before it set the goal – that was not easy to pass under the key in five months. Austrians are working around the clock, but remember that an hour before the arrival of the next important guests we something else there is screwed in the toilets. This house became our mining headquarters – there would not be ashamed to hold meetings, arrange dinners, invite guests. This place has served us very well.

Sochi 2014

Vladimir Putin and Juan Antonio Samaranch
Photo: RIA Novosti

“To build on the site of the road roller coasters? What are you about?”

– Some claim to the Bid Committee expressed by the IOC? 
– Publicly – ever, the IOC is simply not accepted. Frankly, I do not always understand it, I am just a supporter of the full truth. They have the same taken, or good, or nothing. Whatever the failed event, they will always say, there is progress, everything is fine. Because the IOC criticized the organizers perceive as criticism of themselves. It is they who have entrusted it was their risk, and they are also fully share the responsibility.

– A non-public conversations? 
– One by one, they, of course, have something to say. It’s ordinary living people. At first, I suppose, as the fire was afraid of then-President of the International Federation of Bobsleigh Bob Storey. Here IOC member and president of the International Ice Hockey Federation Rene Fasel – kind and open person, one of the few who once talked about the support of Russia and actively helped us. A Story more rigid and strict. If we offered him some kind of absurdity, he could just make fun of us. Once, I remember, I asked him whether it is possible then to make on the bobsleigh track some entertainment area. Something like a roller coaster. What kind of person he was! He really was offended for his sport: “You are what you say?”. After that, we Dima and tried once more cautious ideas gush with such professionals.

– Well, due to which in the end our application outweighed the competition? 
– I think we just believed. For two years we have managed to win over members of the IOC, which, strictly speaking, and press the button during the voting. How much we Chernyshenko held meetings, as have flown all over the world, how many people shaking hands! It was silly to compete with Salzburg in terms of infrastructure and experience of the competition. We have relied on human relations. We talked about his dream and offered friendship and asked for help. There’s someone I support good relations so far – you can tell friends families.

– Just like that came up, and friends – and even yourself admit that in the beginning a little focused in this world? 

– We had a fantastic foreign consultants – think the best among all the cities of applicants. Thank God we had the financial ability – helped us and the state, and sponsors of the pool, which was engaged in the creation of Potanin. Then came Dzhon Tibs, Endryu Kreyg, Terrence Burns and our other assistants. Remember the movie “The Devil Wears” Prada “? When the main character arrives at the reception, behind her two girls, suitable guests, and they are in her ear: “Madame such and such, such and such a gentleman.” Here Endryu Kreyg was the man behind me as soon as we saw someone important, Andrew said: “This is Mr. X, he is committed to something.” And I: “Oh, Mr. X, glad to see you, how to market your business?”. Naturally, soon all I knew myself. People are important when they are known and they are respected – it provides peace and trust. When a person puts a finger over a button, the choice can affect every detail, every smile, every endorsing phrase.

– agree that when you talk about human relationships and at the same time the big financial possibilities, it is difficult to resist the irony. “So how many suitcases brought?” – faced with such allusions? 
– Of course we faced. And, of course, in reality this is not possible. Even talking about it threaten such reputational and litigation risks that few people at a go. Especially in droves. “Buy” a few dozen members of the IOC – as you imagine that? All of them – self-sufficient, professional people with their own code of honor, for their membership in the IOC – the highest title that can not be dropped. Yes, we tried to be hospitable, invited to the theater, to concerts, were taken in good restaurants, gave small gifts, treated to caviar. But all this does not go beyond that provided by the IOC Ethics Commission. Another could not be.

Sochi 2014

Vladimir Putin
Photo: Reuters

“Putin shouted for joy”

– When did you realize that something proklovyvaetsya maybe not so hopeless? 
– When the application to actively join the government. President of Russia began to constantly mention about Sochi’s candidacy, and we guessed that something has changed. At first, Vladimir Vladimirovich did so cautiously, perhaps realizing that the project is a little bit adventurous, unprepared. But the application were connected the whole country, all the ministers, the head of the region, city, Russian IOC members. I remember when the evaluation commission visited, every minister did they report in their area and it looked as if the students pass the exam strict commission. I think communication President Zhukov, Potanin, Fetisov, Tkachev, Gref Tyagachev played a role. At some point, we felt that all the government headed by the president to actively join in the bidding process. I do not mean money, no. I’m talking about resources, when all the doors open and to resolve any issues. And at some point, have the elections in Guatemala, I even got scared, began some panic.

– Why? 
– Imagine if we had lost, we would have brought not only myself. We have summed up the first person of the country. At our request, and the recommendations he came on stage, shared with us all risks and responsibilities assumed. Immediately after the presentation, Putin sat on a plane and flew to the regular working meetings of their schedule. When a few hours later announced our victory, he was contacted by the special communication on the plane, told that he cried with joy. Clearly, what was the significance of this victory for him.

– It is believed that Putin one with his visit to Guatemala Sochi brought a lot of votes. 
– And there is. He behaved in Guatemala as possible correctly – as a guest and not the host. I went to meetings, gala dinners, with little or no protection, no protocol ceremony. But most importantly, he was preparing to all the meetings, he said to each member of the IOC knew every detail of the biography. I heard how he spoke, it was really cool. In the spirit: “I remember your bronze in 1976, it is a pity that when you’re out of luck.” These couple of days before the election finally everything turned. Visit, conduct and active participation of Putin become the decisive factor for our victory.

– When Rogge took the envelope, you already know what’s inside? 
– Of course not. I carefully looked at Denis Oswald, who at the time headed the commission for vote counting and slowly walked on stage for some time prior to the announcement of the results. He knew before anyone else, which the city won. Wonderful man, I’m with him has always been in good friendly relations. Special drills his eyes and thought, be faced with his eyes, he somehow respond – and I understand everything. But it was a stone wall! He looked through all – not the slightest emotion on his face. “Well, what kind of person this, well, smile just a little! Oh, frowned … Is lost? “- that’s what it was about in my head at that moment. And Rogge opens the envelope and show a piece of paper, and there is one word – SOCHI. Everyone starts jumping and screaming, and I have come to some emotional breakdown. He stood in a little corner – and tears hail. I sob, then, and then some guy right in emphasis takes me on camera. And I think: “What a fool. You shoot those who rejoice – what for me, his eyes red, ink flowing down her cheeks. ” Then I totally forgot about it, and a few years later I saw a documentary film Nikity Mihalkova, dedicated to the birthday of the President of Russia, in which described the different stages in the life of Vladimir Vladimirovich. And when the movie we were talking about Sochi, the close-up showed me sobbing. Went down in history – even if such a funny way.

Sochi 2014

Elena Anikin crying after the victory of Sochi ad
Photo: “Championship”

“We have to apologize for being admitted into his home scam”

– After the Games in Sochi has been three and a half years, and of course you know that the attitude towards them is not the most-one in the world. Whether it is worth celebrating this date – 10 years from now? 
– Of course, it is worth. Our application and the victory demonstrated to the world how it is possible to perform a miracle, if the whole country unite around some ideas. The Olympic Games in Sochi, in my opinion, was definitely one of the best in the history of the Winter Games in all respects. Many IOC members, heads of international federations openly say it now. Of course, the sad situation with the doping scandal affected the overall assessment of the Games. But the point is not set, there is a investigation. Wait for results.

– Maybe it’s not just doping but the charges in a giant budget or corruption – it I list just offhand. 
– I approach this issue quite unpopular. IOC concept now is that the games should be cheaper. It is believed that the city no longer apply because of the Olympics was an expensive process. Either explicitly or tacitly implied that the fault of Sochi and that all the “frightened”: firstly, the high of level, and secondly, the level of costs. And, of course, immediately begin to look around the corruption component – still like to consider other people’s money.

– What you do not agree? 
– I think this is fundamentally the wrong approach, and I’m not ashamed to talk about it publicly. The city and the country that conduct games, have the right to decide for themselves how much money they spend on preparation and holding. We wanted to put expensive furniture in the hotel or spend a fantastic opening and closing ceremonies – made. As if we wanted to bring to the IOC session in Guatemala individual aircraft rink with equipment for ice – brought. It’s still one of the strongest impressions from Guatemalans, many IOC members and guests of the session. Imagine a tropical rain, and in the middle of the city on the ice, which is not even visible because of water on the ice dancing ballet “Sleeping Beauty” and the whole city sounds of Tchaikovsky’s music!

It turns a strange situation: the country instead of being grateful for the willingness to spend a lot of money to build the infrastructure, the cultural program and a lot of other things that do not even mandatory – many of the sports community for that we are criticized. What is the logic? In Sochi, we spent money not only and not so much on the Olympics – we actually built a new city with all the accompanying infrastructure. And yet it has remained in the country, actively used, is our unique heritage. In our bid committee was the motto: Put Sochi on the Map ( «Nanesom Sochi on the map”) – the world did not know this city! And now everyone knows it.

– With regard to doping, it is necessary to recognize, people have a right to criticize us – we are given a reason. 
– Of course, it’s a terrible story from the point of view of reputation. I’ve been a way of give. When we rehearsed our performance before the presentations of the candidate cities 10 years ago, our foreign consultants involved us in the game: let all team members on different ends of the hall, handed out small balls and asked the most carefully transfer them to each other, like a baby – hands . The idea was that the ball – this is the Olympics. IOC trust us her child and asks that we treated him tenderly as his own child.

10 years have passed, we had a fantastic game and, of course, have until the end to find out what happened, where we were pierced with the anti-doping fight, how is it that in our “house” wielded crooks. We must apologize – at least for the fact that not dokontrolirovali not inspected … We have to bring everything to the end of the investigation and create a new approach, a new system of anti-doping work in the country. It is engaged in an independent commission Vitaly Smirnov. It seems to me that it is necessary as soon as possible the work to complete and admit our mistakes. Until this is done – it is not surprising that many treat us negatively and continue to severely criticize.

– You are now what do you do after the withdrawal of the Russian Olympic Committee last fall? 
– Despite the departure of OCD and its work in the business of the company, I decided not to leave the topic of sport, who fell in love with all your heart and become, I hope, a good deal in it. Together with John Tibbs, we registered a sports consulting company in Russia. I think this is what is missing many of our structures – expertise in international sports politics. In doing so, we could benefit. You know the funny thing? We recorded this company for almost six months – a lot of paperwork and formalities. And it turned out quite specifically, that the point in this process was set yesterday, 4 July – the day of the 10th anniversary of the choice of Sochi. For myself, I think this is a good sign. It would be great if our company has a hand to any global sports projects in Russia, what was all Sochi 2014. They are a must-do – and more.

Sochi 2014

Photo: Reuters