When Sochi isn’t pretending to be a playground for the world’s greatest alpine athletes, the balmy Russian resort on the Black Sea basks in fall-like, 50-degree temperatures in January.
With the opening ceremony for the Winter Olympics just three weeks away, Russia now must ensure that the sporting events will actually have snow and ice. Organizers are relying on hundreds of snow guns to spread up to 710,000 cubic meters of the white stuff—collected from the mountains last winter and kept in storage—to coat the slopes in case Mother Nature falls short.
If that fails, the $50 billion games—which reportedly make them the most expensive Olympics ever—could always move to Siberia. About 2,600 miles northeast in Novosibirsk, it’s cold enough to erect massive ice sculptures that stay frozen in the frigid air temperatures.
The Olympic torch atop a sailboat, adorned with a horse’s head. Apparently no one told the artist that Sochi is hosting the Winter Olympics—and that, as of yet, there are no events involving boats or horses.
Dedicated fans brave freezing temperatures to see the massive sculptures, like this one featuring two beings with very bulbous heads.
An ice portrait of deceased Russian conductor Arnold Katz, who led the Novosibirisk Symphony Orchestra.
A sculpture of a happy, mostly toothless couple. Perhaps former players for Russia’s national hockey teams.
Rolling the dice. The beard-plait is something that even Brooklyn hipsters have yet to master.
A cat commanding a horse to pull a carriage. Nothing weird about that at all. Next.
No solider can go to battle without a scimitar and an owl.
Is it a magical chariot or a massive and ornate helmet?
A snowman who has the sun and the moon in his hands.
A giant bird nests on—or poops on—an entire city. We’re not sure what the message is here.