It’s time to make travel plans for the Winter Olympics

New York TimesOctober 12, 2013 

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The Black Sea resort town of Sochi, Russia, has undergone a rapid transformation since winning its bid to host the Winter Olympics. This is Rosa Khutor, one of the venues. The Games start on Feb. 7, 2014.

AFP — AFP/GETTY

Questions about the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, abound.

Some people wonder whether the construction of the Olympic Park and other infrastructure in the resort city along the Black Sea will be completed when the Games begin Feb. 7, or if it will be worth the expected price tag of $50 billion.

Others question the ethics of attending an event in a nation that recently passed a law that is widely interpreted as an effort to restrict open advocacy of homosexuality.

Amid all the news coverage, some fans have a simpler question: Can they still get tickets?

“Absolutely,” said Michael Kontos, a spokesman for CoSport, the official Olympic ticket broker in the United States.

Where to get tickets

On CoSport.com, travelers can book tickets to individual events as well as packages that include hotel rooms or passes that provide access to lounges in the Olympic Villages where fans can grab a bite to eat. And this week CoSport is adding new inventory.

Packages offer the best guarantee to attend some of the most popular events. Figure skating fanatics, for example, can book a package that includes five nights at a hotel and tickets to four skating events for $13,132.

But individual tickets may be available for high-demand events like the opening ceremony (starting at $1,138) or the hockey semifinals on Feb. 21 (starting at $310). Less expensive options include events that are less known among many Americans, like the biathlon, which combines cross-country skiing and rifle shooting (starting at $62), and curling ($41).

“You go in and see the passion of the athletes, you really get caught up in the whole spirit of the sport,” Kontos said.

Since winning the bid to hold the Games in 2007, Sochi, a midsize city, has undergone a rapid transformation. It is still putting its finishing touches on a 30-mile road, railroad tracks and thousands of hotel rooms that were built from scratch.

Hotels near the competition venues are filling up fast, though there are also hotels in nearby Adler and a few hotels in the mountains.

Extend your trip

For getting to Sochi, Americans will have to make one stop, more likely two, in connecting cities like Moscow or Amsterdam or Frankfurt.

Anbritt Stengele, president and founder of Sports Traveler, pointed out that these cities offer a good excuse for travelers to extend their trips.

“There’s a lot of side trip opportunity for this Olympics,” she said, adding Istanbul to the list.

Stengele said the cost of flights has held relatively steady the past few months. A recent search for round-trip flights to see the entire games, leaving from New York City with one stop, brought up fares starting at about $1,250.

Stengele said travelers should not wait much longer to book trips, especially as teams hold their qualifying games in the coming months.

“When the figure skating team or the ski team gets named, those are all little bursts in terms of bookings, because now Mom and Dad, aunts and cousins all want to go,” she said.

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