Sochi’s Gold Medal Ski Resort
Rosa Khutor Alpine Resort in the Western Caucasus Mountains has broken ground as one the world’s fastest growing ski resorts to spring up in recent years, while also quickly becoming the largest in Russia.
Developed to host the alpine, freestyle and snowboard events for the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games, Rosa Khutor continues its ambitious expansion towards 19 lifts, nearly 100 kilometers of trails, and has a summit elevation of 2,320 meters. From Rosa Peak, skiers and snowboarders can proceed along Aibga Ridge, with its panoramic views and the Black Sea visible on a clear day.
Rosa Khutor is located 40 kilometers from Sochi and can now be reached via a scenic train ride on Russian Railways, a 30-minute journey ascending the Rosa Valley along the Mzymta River.
In 2012-2013, 10 lifts and gondolas were operational accessing 72 kilometers of trails. Although closed during the end of January and through March due to Olympic freestyle and snowboard test events, it was the third season that Rosa Khutor was open.
The modern, state of the art resort – which is managed by the French Compagnie des Alpes – boasts one of the world’s most expansive snowmaking systems with 404 fixed and 25 mobile snow guns. Thanks to the newly developed “Hot Snow” technology, artificial snow can be produced in temperatures as mild as 15 degrees Celsius.
Undoubtedly, a world-class ski resort has been created, with its proclivity for big snowfalls and a variety of seriously challenging terrain. Investments for the construction are estimated at 69 billion rubles or approximately 2.1 billion dollars.
As recently as 2007, when work began at Rosa Khutor following Sochi winning their Olympic bid from the IOC in July of 2006, there was not even a paved road to access the future resort. Not a single run or lift existed. Now, Rosa Khutor is something to marvel at.
Easy-Access to an Olympic-sized Mountain
Accessing Rosa Khutor Alpine Resort from the bustling Krasnaya Polyana village – the heart of the Olympic mountain venues with its numerous recently opened hotels and restaurants – is a short and easy trip. Skiers and snowboarders can take the Olympia gondola, which proceeds 610 meters of altitude, passes the Olympic Athletes Village, and arrives at the Rosa Plateau adjacent to the new Rosa Khutor Mountain Lodge.
After a second gondola ride to the Besedka area, located at an altitude of 1,350 meters, visitors can choose from a variety of tree-lined, sweeping intermediate trails arriving at Rosa Stadium, where the Olympic alpine events filter in from the opposite side or continue onward to Rosa Peak. Trails below Besedka include Nagano 98, Vancouver 10 and Chamonix 24, named after previous Winter Olympics sites.
Hop on the Kavkazskiy Express and the real fun begins. Rosa Khutor’s main gondola offers a mid-lift loading station at Rosa-1600, then ascends over jagged terrain gaining 970 meters in elevation, before arriving at the breathtaking 2,320 meter Rosa Peak summit.
Visitors can take a break at the summit restaurant for a black tea or Russian pelmeni (minced meat dumplings served with butter and sour cream) or begin their descent of the varied expert and intermediate pistes off Aibga Ridge.
From Rosa Peak down to the Rosa Plateau – the main base area for skiing – the vertical drop is 1,150 meters. Descend from Rosa Peak to the eastern edge of the resort at Rosa Stadium and a leg-burning 1,380 meters of vertical can be attained.
In February 2013, the United States Ski Team had a sneak peak at Rosa Khutor and the future Olympic pistes during a special training camp with their Russian counterparts preparing for the Sochi Games.
“Everybody is completely blown away with what they see here,” said Thomas Biesemeyer of the U.S. Ski Team. “It’s mind blowing what they’ve done in a limited time – the in