- Winter Sports
Russia plays down Sochi 2014 snow concerns
Russian government officials have denied they will have to bring in artificial snow to compensate for a lack of cold weather in Sochi ahead of next year's Winter Olympics.
Organisers suffered an embarrassment earlier this year when two test events in Sochi had to be cancelled due to a lack of snow or rainy weather.
Sochi is the only subtropical region in all of Russia, and is more famous as a beach resort on the shores of the Black Sea.
The concerns have prompted an operation named 'Sochi 2014: Guaranteed Snow', headed by Finnish company Snow Secure, which will provide 500 snow guns ready to produce artificial snow.
The company has also reportedly stored 710,000 cubic metres of snow from the Caucaus Mountains last year in case there is not enough in Sochi for the Winter Olympics - which are set to run between February 7 and 23 next year - to go ahead.
At $50 billion Sochi 2014 is set to be the most expensive Winter Olympics in history and was reportedly only the favoured host venue for President Vladimir Putin because spends his winter holidays there.
Early indications suggest Sochi's current snow levels in December are unusually high for this time of year, which should continue into February, prompting the government to play down fears that artificial measures will be necessary.
"For the snow cover this deep, this isn't a problem," said Roman Vilfand, director of the Roman Meteorological Office.
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