Olympic mascot trio
Leopard, Polar Bear and Bunny Rabbit will be the official mascots of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. For the first ever time, the mascots were picked by a popular vote and not by a national Olympic committee.
A proverb has it that good things should come in threes, which is probably why the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee decided upon three mascots. Each of the them matches the Olympic principles of friendship, respect and strive for perfection, the committee’s head Dmitry Chernyshenko said on Channel One television after the vote.
Athens had three Olympic mascots, Beijing had five and Vancouver had three.
Olympic champion Maria Kiselyova agrees that three is a happy number:
"All of the three mascots personify the Winter Olympics. The polar bear is widely associated with the brown bear – the mascot the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow. Here the bear is white, clearly, because it’s for the Winter Games. The bunny rabbit is so very cute. And the leopard is just wonderful - white as snow, it reminds one of winter. Besides, it’s a rare animal species that needs to be protected and taken care of. I hope these mascots will help our athletes to win.
Of the 24,000 mascots sent to an all-Russian Olympic mascot competition, the jury picked 11 finalists.
Russia’s Santa Claus – Father Frost - was pulled out of the mascot contest before the voting began, though it had been leading the race. But in case of victory, Russia`s Olympic Committee would have got ownership rights for this traditional Russian New Year symbol.
The winning trio received 62% of the vote, with leopard being among the leaders from the very start. It was especially popular in Sochi, where a unique program to preserve leopard population has been implemented since 2009. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin also said he would like to see leopard as a symbol of the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Fire boy and Snowflake Girl were chosen as mascots of the Sochi Winter Paralympics. The choice was made by Paralympic champions of the previous years. “These fantastic characters will provide energy and support to our future champions and will contribute to the development of paralympic sports in Russia”, secretary of Russia`s Paralympic Committee Mikhail Terentyev said.
The authors of winning mascots will be presented with entrance tickets to the opening and the closing ceremonies of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.