It seems so far in the distance, but in less than two years the best hockey players in the world (we think) will descend on Sochi, Russia, for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
For ice hockey, two brand new, state-of-the-art facilities are in the process of being built to host the likes of Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Zach Parise, Zdeno Chara, Henrik Lundqvist and many more (we hope).
From every video and picture I’ve seen of Sochi, this looks like it’s going to be a really unique and beautiful setting for the Winter Olympics. Russia spares no expense when it comes to events like these and if the first pictures of the hockey facilities are any indication, this is going to be a very telegenic event.
Coming up after the jump, the latest photos of the Bolshoy Ice Dome and Shayba Arena.
The main facility for hockey is going to be the Bolshoy Ice Dome, and it looks awfully interesting.
Despite looking enormous from the outside, the main hockey venue will hold just 12,000 people. That’s quite a bit less than the nearly 19,000 held by Rogers Arena, which was known as Canada Hockey Place during the 2010 Olympics.
Bolshoy was designed to resemble a frozen drop, according to its description on the Sochi 2014 site. While it may not hold a large number of spectators, it sure looks pretty, and you can expect it to be a terrific atmosphere when the puck drops.
From the Sochi site:
The name of the Ice Dome highlights the characteristics of this sports venue. The “Bolshoy” will be one of the biggest Olympic venues for hosting events and will house the most popular sport of the Winter Olympics, ice hockey. Equally, the word “Bolshoy” is understandable and familiar to representatives of many different countries, evoking an instant association with Russia’s Bolshoy Theatre, the traditions of the Russian school of ballet, figure skating, ice hockey and other achievements of the biggest country in the world.
Here’s a look at the inside.
Again, it doesn’t look incredibly ominous from the inside, but this building is going to be loud.
Also, how would you like to walk through this concourse?
The secondary stadium that will be used for hockey events is called Shayba Arena. Another attractive piece of architecture, it looks most stunning at night.
Here’s the background from Sochi 2014:
It would be impossible to imagine a game of ice hockey without a “shayba” or puck and the name accurately portrays the purpose of the venue. As well as this, for Russians, shouting “Shaybu!” is a universal and familiar way of supporting hockey teams at the international championships. Therefore, this name represents the character of the “Russian” Winter Games.
If you’ve ever been around a group of Russian hockey fans, they’re pretty intense and this rink is essentially a tribute to them. I don’t believe either Russian team will play a single game in this rink, but regardless, expect another insane atmosphere for hockey games in this cozier arena.
The other interesting thing about Shayba is this:
The “Shayba” Arena is a moveable venue, making it possible to be dismantled and transported for post-Games use as an Ice Palace in another Russian city.
“Vladdy, this is Sasha, can we borrow your 7,000-seat arena for Pee Wee hockey? Just ship it direct to Magnitogorsk.”
Modern construction is pretty neat. Let’s just hope this thing doesn’t dismantle during the games.
The two main hockey venues will be in close proximity of each other, with a training rink nearby for team practices.
Both Bolshoy and Shayba are going to get their first big test this April as the venues will host the 2013 IIHF Men’s World Under-18 Championship. Shayba will also host the 2013 IPC World Sledge Hockey Championship in May.
Getting a look at the buildings nearing completion is just another reminder that the 2014 Olympics aren’t so far away after all. Sochi has a tough act to follow after the excitement the 2010 Olympics brought to the game of hockey, but if the venues are any indication, they’ll be up to the challenge.