Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Heavy Medal Arrives In Sochi

On Wednesday at Sochi Media Center, attending reporters and photographers were treated to the VIP arrival of 2014 Winter Olympic and Paralympic medals -- 1,254 of them, with a combined weight of one ton, to be exact.

Scanning the room filled with dozens of media and P.R. folks, I think this blogger may have been the only U.S. outlet rep in attendance.

The ceremonial special delivery included a press conference including Russian Olympic figure skating champion Aleksei Yagudin and Olympic speedskating champion Svetlana Zhurova who joined Andrey Sidorenko, chairman of ADAMAS, Russia's largest producer of jewelry. ADAMAS CEO Maksim Vainberg also spoke.

Through brief remarks by executives and both Olympians, presented with three videos about the medal design concept and detailed manufacturing process, we learned of several "Olympic firsts" related to the medals.

According to ADAMAS, the Sochi Games presented a first-time challenge of geography between the host city and the capital, necessitating a "unique transportation solution" and "unprecedented security measures." The challenges yielded the new opportunity and concept of taking the medals on a 16 city national tour which helped more than 2.5 million Russians get close to the medals during their circuitous journey to Sochi.

Like the Torch Relay, shall we say there is now a "heavy medal tour" option for future host nations?

The Sochi medals are the first to feature a "high-tenacity transparent polycarbonate insertion"
featuring the Sochi 2014 "patchwork quilt" look of the Games engraved by laser.

There are more medals for Sochi given 12 new competitive events.

ADAMAS is the first jeweler entrusted to create Olympic medals, through which about 2,500 employees contributed to the design, engineering, manufacture, finalization and secure delivery of the medals.

ADAMAS also created and sells dozens of jewelry items such as bracelets, charms, earrings and pendants celebrating Sochi.

Yagudin and Zhurova shared stories of their own Olympic medal experience to provide perspective on what a Sochi Olympic medal may mean to its future owner.

"I did not take off my medal; I wore it for one week and a half except to shower," said Yagudin of the Salt Lake 2002 experience.

Zhurova, winner of gold at Torino 2006 (her fourth Olympics), accompanied the 2014 medals as a tour ambassador.

She said the new medals had a different meaning for each person she met.

"Everyone who saw the medals and touched it had a special idea of who might later win it," said Zhurova. "Perhaps the IOC will let the tour process occur again [for future Olympiads]."

A live feed showed the ADAMAS couriers arrive with special containers and security who carried some of the medals into the press center.

The executives and Olympians took turns showcasing the gold, silver and bronze for cameras.

"This gold one might look good for a hockey team," said Zhurova. "A Russian team."

Photos by Nicholas Wolaver; video by ADAMAS


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