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The notion of looking at the Sochi area on Google Earth occurred to me and indeed it comes right up just putting Sochi in the search field.   Looking at the area on GE I now have a decent understanding of what all the TV images are looking at.  Highly recommended.


Sochi is along the eastern shore of the giant inland and salty Black Sea at sea level with the coastline northeast to southeast trending.

This is at 43 degrees north latitude or similar to Mount Bachelor at Bend, Oregon.  In back of the Black Sea shore is the 400 mile long linear trending Caucasus Range.  Highest peak is Mt. Elbrus at over 18k though most of the range is 8k to 13k at crest areas.  Lots of deep steep sided mountain valleys into the range from the sea that generally appears too steep in areas above snow lines to have forests because of avalanching.  Rather obvious in the GE images is that the most snow is on sub-ranges closest to the Black Sea where lake effect snows obviously must be occurring.  Further inland in the Caucasus similar elevations to the Olympic area are rather baren desert like in a rain shadow except at the highest crest areas.


The snowy mountain Olympic venues are actually about 22 miles as the bird flies up a steep walled forested canyon from the town of Adler that is 15 miles east southeast of Sochi both on the Black Sea coast at sea level elevation.   A  road and or railroad goes up that valley to Krasnaya Polayana at about 1600 feet where the valley is west to east trending.  A north facing mountain sub-range ridge rises to 7k to 8k above that town.  There are 3 widely spaced areas showing ski runs slopes cut into forest areas.  The Olympic area is on the one to the east a bit and the GE images show all the facilities NBC has been showing like the slopestyle courses and all that are only at about 4k.