SOCHI, Russia – There are three villages for the 7,000-plus athletes in the Sochi Olympics. The largest is the Coastal Cluster near the main venues, with two more (Mountain and Extreme) located near the skiing, snowboarding and sledding competitions.
Each of them have their charms. All of them have their oddities. Here are the 10 most awesome (and creepy) things found in Sochi Olympics athletes villages:
The Climbable Rings
The villages each have replicas of the Olympic rings that are low to the ground and large enough to climb on.
Sometimes that means just chillin’ at the top and taking it all in, like an American speed skater did. Up in the mountains, it means spectacular images like this one at the top, featuring Australian athletes.
We can only hope this leads to some Power Rangers cos-playing later in the Games. Dibs on Green.
The Sleeping Conditions
The athletes’ accommodations in every Olympics are usually of a small apartment or dorm quality, but the Sochi rooms went one step further: Sleeping three athletes to a room.
This image from the Canada House went viral, as many envisioned a slumber party with Sidney Crosby and his linemates.
There’s A ‘Rambo’ Video Game In The Rec Center … In Russia
The Russians know the plot of “Rambo III”, right?
The one where Rambo assists the Mujahideen in killing hundreds of Soviets in their war in Afghanistan?
Then again, maybe their other option was a "Rocky IV" video game ...
This “Palm Tree”
(Bad Russian Accent) “What, this? No, is not surveillance equipment keeping watch of every move you make in athletes village. Is just one of our many glorious palm trees in the beautiful resort town of Sochi! But seriously, don’t eat the coconuts, as they’re actually large camera batteries.”
OK,, this is actually likely just a cell phone tower disguised as a tree, just like we have back in the U.S. Only ours are, like, pine trees; this one’s a little more conspicuous.
Messages And/Or Vandalism
There are a few places in each village where athletes can leave their mark on the Games.
A large glass etching is found near the square where athletes are honored, and they cover it with messages.
Each of the Olympic villages has a 24-hour McDonalds. The one at the Coastal Cluster featured a Ronald McDonald statue that became a giant guest book for athletes, writing their names and honoring their teams:
We would have gone teeth first, personally.
The Rock Climbing Wall
Located (where else?) in the Mountain Cluster, there is a large rock climbing wall that athletes can challenge on their down time, while their coaches challenge themselves not to vomit while worrying about torn muscles and other nonsensical injuries for athletes climbing a rock wall.
Then again, the climbing wall is located right next to the medical center. So the planners knew what they were doing.
Just in case the Mountain Cluster village didn’t completely overwhelm your retina with breathtaking vistas, there are also incredible ice sculptures dotting the venue.
We’ll give 10,000 rubles to the first athlete that dares put their tongue on one of these.
We double-dog-dare them.
The DVD Room (a.k.a. Make Out Heaven)
The athletes’ lounge at the Coastal Cluster features a few rooms with closed doors that offer DVD screenings of movies and televisions.
But we figure this is simply a place for two athletes in hormonal bliss to, uh, have a strategy session.
The Wood Man
The single creepiest thing we saw in the athletes’ village. Or maybe ever.
Located on a walking path to the athletes’ residences, many stopped in their tracks to stare at this nightmare fuel, expecting the creature to spring to life and avenage centuries of man cutting down and burning its relatives.
What the heck is this?
Coastal Olympic Village officials weren’t even sure. The words hanging on the branches, according to the Russians we spoke with, are “Ginger” and “Tree.”
One theory is that the art piece is there as a symbol of conservation, located on a walkway that’s environmentally protected. And we’ll gladly go with that rather than “vengeful wood sprite that will force us never to use a toothpick again.”
And finally ...
Finally, The EPCOT Celebration That Is The Flag Raising In The Olympic Mountain Village
Plushies, choreographed dancing, women with drums, some kind of Russian pop group and bewildered athletes … the flag raising ceremonies in the Sochi Athletes Villages are like a low oxygen hallucination.