With smaller budgets, lower temperatures, and less press than the Summer Games, the Olympic Winter sports have always been something of an ugly step-cousin. But right now, it's what everyone's talking about. For better or worse, the Sochi Games have it all: controversy, politics, crime, world records—and that's before the competitions get under way.
Let the games begin:
The Financial Picture (in U.S. dollars)
51 billion: Estimated cost of the Sochi Olympics (making it the most expensive Games ever). 6 billion: Cost of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. 30 billion: Amount that Russian opposition figure and former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov alleges has been stolen from funds allocated to host the Games. 1,200: Maximum price for an event ticket. 890: Average monthly salary in Russia.
The Politics405,605: Number of signatures currently on a petition by gay rights group All Out calling on Russia to eliminate anti-gay laws, violence, and discrimination. 14: Number of days that foreign citizens found guilty of violating Russia's anti-homosexuality laws can expect to spend in jail (plus a fine of up to $3,100 and deportation). 3: Number of openly gay athletes President Obama has named to be part of the U.S. Olympic delegation for the opening ceremonies (Billie Jean King, Caitlin Cahow, Brian Boitano) 0: Number of games since 2000 not attended by a U.S. president, first lady, or vice president. (In addition to Obama, French President François Hollande, German President Joachim Gauck, and European Union Commissioner Viviane Reding will also not be attending.)
2,453: Expected number of anti-doping tests the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will perform in Sochi. 8: Number of years the IOC stores Olympic samples to retest them when new evaluation methods become available. (This will be extended to 10 years starting in 2016.) 20: Number of doping cases that have been reported by the IOC since testing began at the Winter Olympics in 1968.
34: Number of people killed in a December 2013 suicide bombing in Volgograd (about 400 miles from Sochi). 37,000: Number of security officers being deployed for the Games. 375: Number of U.S. athletes, coaches, staff, and guests who have enlisted the services of crisis response company Global Rescue in case of emergency. 2: The Number of U.S. warships waiting in the Black Sea in case military action is needed to evacuate Americans.
92: Length in miles of Sochi (it's the longest city in Europe). 7,775: Elevation in feet (about the same as Aspen). 47: The average temperature in February, making it the warmest Winter Games on record.
The Olympic Village
1988: Year condoms were first widely distributed at the Games. 100,000: Number of condoms distributed at the 2012 London games. 70,000: Gallons of borscht (beet soup) expected to be served.
1: Number of times the torch has been in space. 40,389: Miles that the torch will have traveled by the time it reaches Sochi on February 7 (more than any previous year). 14,000: Number of torchbearers to carry the flame during its journey.
6,000: Number of athletes competing (plus 1,650 Paralympians). 85: Countries represented. 230: Number of athletes on Team USA (the largest from any country ever at a Winter Games). 12: New Olympic events debuting in Sochi. (biathlon mixed relay, figure skating team event, luge team relay, women's ski jumping, men's and women's ski halfpipe, ski slopestyle, snowboard slopestyle, and parallel special slalom.) 5: Total number of mascots for the Sochi Games: the Polar Bear, Hare, and Leopard for the Olympics and the Snowflake and Ray of Light for the Paralympics. 18: Average number of hours spent manufacturing an Olympic medal. 1,300: Number of medals to be awarded in Sochi (a record high).Sources: NBC Sports Group Press Box, Olympic Organizing Committee, Washington Post, Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty, Yahoo! Sports, Independent, The Associated Press, CNN, ESPN