As Russia prepares to host the most expensive Olympic Games in history this February 6-23, 2014, you will probably become familiar with the official mascot trio of a Snow Loepard, Snow Hare and Polar Bear. The cartoonish trio will compliment the Official Olympic ring logo, and if successful become iconic of the host city. But how exactly did Russia and the town of Sochi come up with this trio to represent the 2014 Winter Olympiad?
In much the same way that cities around the world compete to host the Olympic games, the mascot trio was in fact the result of a contest. Sochi defeated bids from Salzburg, Austria, and Pyeongchang, South Korea when it was selected in 2007 at an International Olympic Committee meeting in Guatemala City, as the host of the 2014 Winter Olympics. As part of the seven year preparation, in an unofficial referendum, extra options were included in 240,000 ballots for Sochi residents, during the 2008 presidential election to help Sochi select a mascot. On this ballot, the majority of residents selected a Dolphin mascot to represent the games but it was later decided that the entire country should take part in the decision.
Russia ran a nationwide mascot contest from September 1st through December 5th of 2010 calling for public submissions. The contest received over 24,000 design entries and a jury announced a shortlist of finalists in December of 2010. Ten designs were selected for the Winter Olympic Games and three designs for the Paralympic Games in a series of elimination rounds. The finalists were presented on live television on February 7, 2011 for a nationwide text message voting campaign on “Talismaniya Sochi 2014 – The Final”.
Some controversy developed over the finalists, as unofficial public polling questioned how a frog named Zoich, said to be the people’s favorite, was inexplicably eliminated from the second round of voting. Of the ten finalists, three were ultimately selected to act as a trio, a polar bear, a snow hare, and snowboarding leopard – reportedly prime minister, Vladimir Putin’s choice. So there you have it. A history of how a national contest contributed to the official Sochi Winter Olympic mascot and logo.