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.”
Video: Sochi torchbearer’s sleeve catches fire from Olympic flame
The 2018 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, the final competition to determine the Pyeongchang Olympic team, will be in San Jose, California, at the SAP Center, concluding Jan. 7.
It appears to be the earliest the U.S. Figure Skating Championships will end in an Olympic year in at least 50 years.
The competition will be broadcast live on NBC and streamed live on Icenetwork.com.
San Jose previously hosted the U.S. Championships in 1996 and 2012, but it has never hosted in an Olympic year.
Sochi Olympian Polina Edmunds is from San Jose and figures to receive a boost of crowd support. Edmunds, 18, begins classes at nearby Santa Clara University next month.
The January 2017 U.S. Championships will be in Kansas City. The international figure skating season starts next month, with Skate America kicking off the Grand Prix season in October.
Recent Nationals host cities in Olympic years were Boston in 2014 and Spokane, Washington, in 2010.
MORE: Ashley Wagner, Gracie Gold headline Skate America
Olympic coaches don’t receive gold medals. Fiji Olympic men’s rugby coach Ben Ryan may have gotten something better anyway.
Ryan’s reward for guiding Fiji to its first Olympic medal in any sport — gold in rugby sevens’ Olympic debut — included three acres of land in Fiji and a new name, Ratu Peni Raiyani Latianara, according to Fijian reports.
Ryan, a London native, is stepping down as coach of the Fijian team. The 44-year-old coached the team for three years after leading the England national sevens team for six years.
MORE: Fiji wins nation’s first Olympic medal