Sochi airport – 30 km
Season – December–March
Level – beginner to expert
After five years of intense construction and the 2014 Olympics, this winter season will be the second in the post-Olympic Krasnaya Polyana where one can once again come “for the snow” on the weekend. But with new health and safety regulations, Polyana mountains are closed to wild freeriding. However, many regulars come to the resort to work as guides, which is even better, because the three ski resorts (the old Alpika Service is still closed for refurbishment) can now house so many people, that the most coveted parts of powder are skied-on in the morning before you can say “pow”, just like in Chamonix. And with a guide you can always find an untouched section and leave your own trail a metre deep in the powdery and capricious Krasnaya Polyana snow that falls, like before, in fluffy and heavy flakes when the clouds come from the Black Sea.
The new infrastructure is also worthy of attention — for example, 1972 Olympic champion Bernhard Russi designed the treacherous fast courses and the super giant slalom in Rosa Khutor. On non-competition days, anyone willing can try themselves on the slope where world alpine skiing stars lost control and flew past the poles. As for the “good old Polyana”, the majority of your favourite venues remain. In the evening you can relax the muscles and bathe in three waters in British Banya; dance on the bar in Trikoni tavern (although they say that it is no longer allowed); order kebab and khachpury in Achishkho restaurant under the eponymous range; walk along the road in the dark and listen to the coos of River Mzymta, shallow in winter.
Basically, no one has built a better resort for the weekend for residents of both capitals, so they must, like before, keep an eye on the weather, check the resort’s webcams and keep the ski bag packed in order to fly to Polyana on Friday and on Monday morning come to work refreshed and with an obscenely happy face.