In size and terrain variety, the Olympic venues in Krasnaya Polyana are comparable to France’s Les Trois Vallées. But will they survive after the torch is extinguished?
Paul Mathews arrived in the Caucasus on the private jet of a Russian plutocrat and for a week was chauffeured around the mountains in an armored Mercedes with an escort of several dozen police cars and a bodyguard named Sacha who looked like a stand-in for Arnold Schwarzenegger. There were state dinners and vodka toasts and a pig roast in the forest. “It was like an acid trip,” says Mathews, a veteran mountain-resort designer, recalling the exploratory trip he took in 2000 to scout ski areas in southern Russia.