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Editorial

Cool in the tropics

By Nick Wright

February 2014 - While researching and writing about the Sochi Olympics for this month’s cover story, the question kept popping up: Why host the winter games in a subtropical climate?

Russia covers about an eighth of the world’s land, including Siberia—the vast region we usually associate with plenty of snow. Of all places in the country, Sochi has a temperate climate found in what most would consider a vacation town, perhaps more suitable for hosting summer games. The astronomical price tag for Sochi—last I read, it eclipsed $50 billion—makes it the most expensive Olympic games in history, a superlative no country is eager to claim. But, alas, money is what it all boils down to.

When Russia made its bid for the winter games in 2005, its economy was booming. It knew it could finance what’s become a mind-boggling construction site in terms of scale and scope. Sochi needed entire roads, railways and infrastructure upgrades (costing about $8.7 billion), to say nothing of the Olympic venues themselves, which make up 12 percent of the entire $50 billion. Russia wanted to turn Sochi into a world-class, year-round resort.

Even though Sochi was still an active construction pit just months ago, it’s ready for an international audience. On scales both big and small, it’s not hard to tie this into our industry: metalwork. The Fisht Olympic Stadium, curiously resembling the Dallas Cowboy’s AT&T Stadium, features massive steel trusses sprouting from the ground and arching across the length of the stadium’s roof. Miles of rail and rebar line the main transit routes in and out of Sochi. On an unseen and smaller scale, a labyrinth of concrete-covered steel makes up the refrigeration system for the Sanki Sliding Center’s bobsled track, featured in this issue’s cover story. And Norton Abrasives grind away the steel sled runners to keep the USA Luge team sliding to the gold.

You might be wondering what this has to do with Sochi’s subtropical selection. Yes, money is one reason. The speed with which an international community of engineers, designers, contractors and fabricators can mobilize to build up what was a low-profile holiday destination is astonishing and, frankly, a good enough reason in itself. Why play hockey in an arena next to the beach of the Black Sea? Because by hiring thousands of hands and divvying up the projects among expert companies, they can. 

With the capabilities of metal fabricators, any of the events could virtually be held anywhere. The sliding track passes through multiple mountain microclimates, but because ammonia flows through the cooling pipes inside the track, ice remains consistent no matter the conditions.

For snowboarding, biathlon and other outdoor events, there’s always a risk this winter won’t be a cold one. No amount of innovative metalwork in the world can change the forecast, but Russian bravado and determination might be the next best solution: In the unlikely case of a shortage, some 16 million cubic feet of snow is stockpiled under aluminum reflective thermal blankets lining the alpine skiing range, to be aided by snow machines and metal gutters that funnel snow down from higher, snow-heavy peaks. Suddenly, Sochi doesn’t seem an odd locale after all. FFJ

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AIR FILTRATION

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Camfil APC - Equipment Trilogy Machinery Inc. Metamation Inc. Admiral Steel
Camfil APC - Replacement Filters

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Alliance Steel
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Mazak Optonics Corp.

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Enmark Systems Inc.
MetalForming Inc. MC Machinery Systems Inc. Peddinghaus Lantek Systems Inc.
RAS Systems LLC Murata Machinery, USA, Inc.

PLATE & ANGLE ROLLS

SecturaSOFT

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TRUMPF Inc. Davi Inc. SigmaTEK Systems LLC
Steelmax Tools LLC

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Trilogy Machinery Inc. Striker Systems

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MTS Sensors

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Bradbury Group

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Mate Precision Tooling AIDA-America Corp.
Burghardt + Schmidt Group Fehr Warehouse Solutions Inc. Rolleri USA

STEEL

Butech Bliss UFP Industrial

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Alliance Steel
Red Bud Industries

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AMADA AMERICA, INC.

TUBE & PIPE

Tishken Advanced Gauging Technologies Automec Inc. BLM Group

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MC Machinery Systems Inc. Prudential Stainless & Alloys
Mayfran International Cincinnati Inc. SafanDarley

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LVD Strippit

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Barton International
ATI Industrial Automation Scotchman Industries Inc. Hougen Manufacturing Flow International Corporation
Lissmac Corp. Trilogy Machinery Inc.

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Jet Edge Waterjet Systems
Osborn

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Behringer Saws Inc. Omax Corp.
SuperMax Tools FAGOR Arrasate USA Inc. Cosen Saws

WELDING

Timesavers MetalForming Inc. DoALL Sawing American Weldquip

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HE&M Saw Strong Hand Tools
Beckwood Press Co. Titan Tool Supply Inc. Savage Saws T. J. Snow Company
Triform

 

 

 


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