Sochi chooses 3 mascots for 2014 Olympics

Updated: 2011-02-27 17:23


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MOSCOW - Sochi's mascots for the 2014 Winter Olympics are a rad snowboarding snow leopard, a squeaky-voiced figure skating bunny and an earnest, slightly dorky polar bear.

Sochi chooses 3 mascots for 2014 Olympics
The Polar Bear, one of three mascots for the 2014 Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, is shown in this illustration released February 26, 2011. The Hare, Polar Bear and Leopard were chosen based on the results of a public vote during a live television show.  [Photo/Agencies]

The unusual decision to have three mascots was announced by Sochi organizing committee head Dmitry Chernyshenko on Saturday at the end of a nationally televised gala to choose them.

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Viewers could vote from among nine candidates by phone calls and text messages. More than 1 million votes were cast, according to the program.

When the candidates were introduced to the nation in early February, there had been 10. But one of them was a representation of Ded Moroz, the Russian analogue of Santa Claus, and on Saturday officials said he had been pulled out because the mascot would become the property of the International Olympic Committee, and it was unthinkable that the gift-bearing, white-bearded man would in effect belong to someone else.

Ded Moroz was the early favorite, according to a poll conducted by the VTsIOM survey organization a few days after the candidate field was announced.

The mascots appear likely to work well as a team. They encapsulate much of Russia's ambitious self-image.

The top vote recipient of the troika was the leopard; perhaps not coincidentally, he was also the favorite of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who when president pushed for the games with such vigor that the bid overcame concerns about the necessity to build all of the venues from scratch, about Russia's poor infrastructure, and about security worries.

In a they symbolize the Sochi Games' unusual setting, where the ice sports will be held along the subtropical coastline of the Black Sea, while the snow sports will be in the soaring mountains that loom nearby.

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