Ski jumping: Drama, anger and concrete as jumps are built

Sun Feb 16, 2014 8:14am EST
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By David Ljunggren

ROSA KHUTOR, Russia (Reuters) - When ski jumpers arrived for an international event at Russia's new Olympic hill complex in December 2012, they found a construction site.

"Sochi was very interesting because there was no snow, just a lot of mud and dirt ... we only jumped on the normal hill because the big hill was not ready with snow," Austria's Gregor Schlierenzauer recalled in an interview with Reuters.

The RusSki Gorki jumps in the mountains above Sochi should have been straightforward to build yet turned into the most complex of all the projects at the Olympics, which are expected to have cost Russia more than $50 billion.

Initially promised for 2011, the jumps were finished two years late and went almost seven times over budget as engineers realized the site was highly unstable.

Two firms tried and failed to complete the task and in 2012, Russia's largest bank, Sberbank, stepped in.

"Everyone knew that the project was suffering from significant delays and certain problems," said Stanislav Kuznetsov, deputy chairman of the board at Sberbank.

"The geology and the soil conditions are complicated. We as builders experienced enormous difficulties during the construction," he told reporters.

Engineers eventually had to sink 3,600 iron piles 24 meters into the ground and then drown the site in concrete.   Continued...

Germany's Severin Freund soars through the air during the final round of the men's ski jumping large hill individual final of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games, at the RusSki Gorki Ski Jumping Center in Rosa Khutor, February 15, 2014. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach