Sochi Olympic preparations take priority over holiday celebrations, Russian president Vladimir Putin said Thursday.
“We have the New Year and Christmas holidays ahead of us,” Putin said on TV, according to Agence France-Presse. “I’d like to say, I think it should be clear that for you, New Year’s will come … on March 18. For you and for everyone who is working on the Olympic venues.
“Everyone working on this massive, grandiose project must understand this.”
New Year’s appears to be more celebrated in Russia than in the U.S. From Reuters:
Russia comes to a virtual standstill between December 31 and January 8, with the main family celebrations on New Year’s Eve, a tradition that dates to the Soviet Communist era. Many Russians now also celebrate Orthodox Christmas on January 7.
Putin declared the Olympic ski jumping venue fully ready on Wednesday, but there is still work to be done before the Games begin Feb. 6. Fisht Stadium, home to the Opening Ceremony, has not yet been opened and will be inspected by Putin on Friday, according to Reuters.
“It is not only evident to us, but to all observers too, that tremendous, high-quality work has been done,” Putin told Olympic organizers, according to Reuters. “There are things that need to be accomplished, perfected at the final stage.”
Steve Langton, who was described by driver Steven Holcomb as the “best push athlete in the world,” announced his retirement today.
A collegiate sprinter and jumper at Northeastern University, Langton decided to try bobsledding after watching the 2006 Winter Olympics. He filled out an online athlete resume, and, by the 2010 Games, he was an Olympian.
At the Sochi 2014 Games, Langton teamed with Holcomb to win a bronze medal in the two-man race. It was the first Olympic medal in the event by American sled since 1952. He claimed another bronze medal as a member of Holcomb’s four-man “Night Train.”
“In Sochi I competed on the world’s biggest stage, I won two medals for my country and I did so along not only the best teammates but best friends anyone could ever ask for,” Langton told USA Bobsled.
Langton, who has a 62-inch standing box jump and can squat more than 500 pounds, was described by Men’s Health as “the most powerful winter Olympian” in the lead-up to 2014 Games.
“[Langton’s] work ethic and discipline rubbed off on the other athletes and made everyone better,” said USA Bobsled & Skeleton Chief Executive Officer Darrin Steele. “I have no doubt that he’ll find success in the next chapter of his life as well.”
Langton appeared on “The Amazing Race” in 2015 with his girlfriend, Aly Dudek, an Olympic short track speedskater.
None of the push athletes on the current U.S. roster have Olympic experience. Holcomb will compete in the World Cup opener this Saturday with Sam McGuffie, a former University of Michigan football player. The race will be McGuffie’s World Cup debut.