Sochi, June 17: While some stadiums of the 2014 FIFA World Cup are collecting rust in Brazil, Sochi, one of the venues for the 2018 FIFA World Cup and the venue for the 2014 Winter Olympics, has found a way to keep the facility alive and kicking.
Most of the infrastructure has been converted into luxury hotels and casinos and while they do not reach full capacity always, the Olympic Park is a retreat spot for Russian families.
From the ski tracks to the mountain bike trails, the Olympic Village at Rosa Khutor, the main ski village of the 2014 Winter Olympics, is a big hit among tourists for its scenic views and mountain trails.
"Many tourists come here to experience the village," said Pavel Narnov, a 23-year-old engineer from Moscow.
"This place offers everything - beautiful view points, waterfalls, a canyon and even the view of the gorge. We see this greenery only now as it's the summer. Every part of the mountain would be covered in snow any other time. We cherish this kind of a scenery as we do not get to see this in Moscow. That apart, you get to take photographs with the Olympic rings at the village!," he added.
Despite it being around 12 degree Celsius, kids were pestering their parents to buy ice creams while the rain had halted the cable car service to the Rosa Peak.
Once the rain subsided, the village was bustling with activity. Even though the Winter Olympics was held here was four years ago, you can still feel the spirit of the five rings even today.
"The only grouse for me is that they did not provide discount on the tickets for the cable car," Narnov added.
"Everywhere in Moscow and St Petersburg, the World Cup Fan ID holders have 50 per cent discount for the museums but there was nothing here. It's still fine because I loved the hiking trails and the serenity of the region."
The ski village is connected by bus (two hours by road) and train (one-hour journey from Adler Railway Station) and once you cross a couple of tunnels in the train, you are greeted with a Kashmir-like view of the mountain and valley.
One end of Sochi is quite warm with the Black Sea surrounding it, but the other side is covered with snow-clad mountains even in the Russian summer. Quite ideal for those who can't stand the heat in Adler, the edge of Sochi and home to the Fischt Stadium.
Brazil could definitely take a leaf out of the Rosa Khutor given the stadium in Manaus is rarely used. As for the 2018 FIFA World Cup hosts, the way Rosa Khutor ski resort has been preserved could serve as an example for all its venues.
(myKhel.com correspondent Aravind S is in Russia, covering the event though typically from a fan's perspective).