Sports

With the world's spotlight now on Sochi, what's the city like from the resident's perspective?

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Credit: REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh

A stray dog lies on the grass in front of the Bolshoy Ice Dome at the Olympic Park in the Adler district of Sochi February 5, 2014. Residents say thousands of dogs have disappeared from the streets of Sochi since a local business won a contract to catch stray animals before the Games.

Opening ceremonies for the Winter Olympics start Friday. But the very first events of the Games are scheduled for Thursday.

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(This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.)

One of them is slopestyle snowboarding. Some are concerned about how safe it is.

Wednesday the top American contender, Shaun White, pulled out of the event, saying the risk of injury was too great for him.

White will still be competing later in his top event: Halfpipe.

So the first drama of the Winter Olympics has already started before the flame has been lit.

It's hard not to get caught up in the buzz of Olympic excitement with the Games so close now. But what’s it like from a Russian perspective?

Yekaterina Kravtsova is with the Moscow Times and has been reporting on the Olympics.

She says the place is different since the last time she visited five years ago.

“The city has been changed,” she says. “I couldn’t recognize anything.”

She says Sochi’s classic character has morphed into a land of huge hotels and buildings. Such is the case when the Olympics come town.

When you look at Sochi through the eyes of Western journalists you see images of unfinished hotel rooms and stray dogs.

But the locals have been watching the construction for years now. And when they look at the city today, they still see the same thing: a construction site.

Talking to Kravtsova you almost get the idea the Olympics are a bane rather than a blessing.

“I wouldn’t say that I feel much excitement in the air,” she says. “But I’d say that’s because the Games haven’t started yet.”

Kravtsova thinks the mood will change once the flame gets lit. And then, the residents will be able to be part of a worldwide celebration of sports.

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