From the entrance to the cable car at the foot of the mountain to the slopes at the top, security guards and volunteers checked credentials every step of the way. Athletes, journalists and the few spectators who attended the test events were stopped when getting onto a shuttle bus or snowmobile, and again when they arrived at their destination. During a single journey, it wasn't unusual for a badge to be meticulously scrutinized at least a dozen times.
Guards with assault rifles and German shepherds patrolled the sports venues in groups, although they did not approach visitors and seemed to try to keep a low profile.
Chernyshenko said the security measures would be exactly the same during the games and insisted that they were no different from those taken at past Olympics held elsewhere in the world.
Russia is wary of an Islamic insurgency that has long troubled a patchwork of predominantly Muslim republics located on the other side of the mountain range. The insurgency began in Chechnya during separatist wars with Moscow in the 1990s and spread throughout the region. In Dagestan, the current epicenter of the violence, bombings and shootings targeting police and other officials occur almost daily. In recent years, however, the terror attacks have largely been confined to the North Caucasus region, rarely spilling out into the rest of Russia.
To the south of Sochi along the Black Sea coast lies Abkhazia, a breakaway part of Georgia allied with Russia, which has troops stationed there. Georgia lost its last remaining bit of territory in Abkhazia during a brief war with Russia in 2008. Relations between Russia and Georgia are only now beginning to thaw.
"I can assure you that law enforcement agencies are taking unprecedented measures to protect our tourists from any danger," Sochi Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov said. "I'm confident that our Olympics are going to be the safest ones ever."
Another concern for Sochi is the weather. The snowfall this winter has been abundant, but the Russians have made contingency plans in light of the warm weather and rain that disrupted some of the freestyle skiing and snowboarding events at the 2010 Vancouver Games.
The Rosa Khutor resort, which will host the Alpine skiing and other events, has one of the biggest snow-making systems in Europe, according to its managing director, Alexander Belokobylsky. The resort has two water reservoirs and 400 snow generators installed along the slopes. Rosa Khutor also stores snow through the summer, keeping it packed and under a tight insulated cover, and plans to store 150,000 cubic meters (195,000 cubic yards) of snow for the games.
The Olympic village for athletes competing in Alpine skiing is still under construction, as is the one for skaters and other athletes who will be based on the coast. The third Olympic village, however, is close to completion and housed the cross-country skiers during the weekend's test events.
Hoffman was impressed by the spaciousness of the rooms in the chalet where he stayed, but his first shower sent water streaming into the room below. Even though workmen arrived to fix the plumbing, he decided not to use the shower for fear it might leak again.
His American teammate, Jessie Diggins, whose room was directly under Hoffman's, said such glitches are nothing to worry about.
"Everywhere you go there's going to be one or two little kinks, nothing is going to be perfect, but I think they'll be done," Diggins said. "It's really impressive how fast they were able to put together all this infrastructure. I think with one year to go we'll have even more."
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