The mascot race for Sochi 2014 has finally been decided.
I say that as though the next winter games are upon us and not three years away… but, you know, I am a planner. Now I can start planning my themed Olympic outfits. And learn the Russian words need to discuss mascots.
The open competition for mascot design began on September 1, 2010 and ran through December 5, during which time over 24,000 sketches/ideas were submitted by participants from all over Russia. There was no age restriction and citizens living outside of the country were also allowed make their voices heard.
The finalist field included 11 options, ranging from Russian Santa Claus—Ded Moroz—to fluffy woodland creatures to a disembodied head to Matryoshka dolls—those quintessential Russian stacking dolls. Who does not own at least one set of those? I own two. Interestingly, neither is from Russia and only one is from eastern Europe; my dolls hail from Paris and Prague.
It’s a big market, those Matryoshka dolls. I was really pulling for them.
If you understand Russian, this video will probably be much more engaging for you. If not, just know it eventually includes animated self-introductions by each proposed mascot. I imagine they discuss their likes, goals, hobbies and where they are from.
At any rate, Santa missed out on final selection, which is probably a good thing since the online description made it pre-tty clear that the man is super busy and probably does not have time to hobnob at the Olympics.
Luckily, the disembodied sunshine head is out as well.
So is the dolphin. And like, what was a dolphin doing in the mix? He cannot ski. He does not have feet. He has a flipper.
Now, as avid readers of Words to Bumble, you know that I am never critical; however, I feel the decision to select three final mascots is a bit over-indulgent.
Remember the summer of 1972 in Munich? One simple, multi-colored dachshund named Waldi (note to self, if I ever get a dachshund, that will probably be its name). Logo and mascot all in one package, modeled after a real live dog, whose real live name was Cherie von Birkenhof. True story.
The winning mascots were apparently elected by a national text message and online poll. So it was kind of like American Idol for animated athletes.
Unsurprisingly, Prime Minister Vladmir Putin’s favorite candidate, a snowboarding snow leopard—known only as The Leopard—was selected. He’s a mountain rescuer from the Caucasus. He also likes to dance. Maybe that is why Putin picked him.
Next up is The Hare, who is an excellent student and the busiest woodland creature in the forest. She is so full of love and trust that she does not hold any secrets from her friends or family. She also likes to dance—and sing!
The third mascot—supposedly favored by President Dmitry Medvedev (whose last name means ‘bear’)—is a rolly-polly Polar Bear who likes to jazz up his fur coat with a striped scarf. Everything else he owns is entirely made of snow and ice; even his exercise equipment. Raised by explorers who taught him winter sports, he is so jolly that he even gets along with seals. He is an awesome bobsledder.
They are currently living it up in the mascot lodge with the two Paralympic mascots, The Snowflake [girl] and The Ray of Light [boy], who may or may not be a late 1990s Madonna fan.
If you want to read more about all the major drams surrounding the selections, the St. Petersburg Times has an informative piece.
Check out the official mascot page here, available in English and Russian.