TODAY   |  February 06, 2013

Winter Olympics in Sochi are one year away

As Russia prepares to welcome guests from around the world for the Winter Olympics next year, NBC’s Ben Fogle takes an insider’s look at the progress of Sochi’s Olympic Park and gets the scoop on a few athletes to look out for next year.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> back now at 7:49 with our countdown to "today" in sochi . one year from now the best athletes in the world will start competing in the 2014 winter olympic games .

>> it is closer to istanbul than the russia capital of moscow. ben fogle is there. good morning to you.

>> reporter: good morning, matt. behind me is the stadium that will host the opening and closing ceremonies. as you can see, it's all hands on deck as they work round the clock to get things done on time. i've spent the last few days finding out how russia plans to welcome the world next winter. it's 68 degrees. it's sunny and there's palm trees . at first glance, sochi , situated on the shores of the black sea , doesn't look like a place for the winter olympics . it's actually a summer seaside resort . but there's a saying in sochi , if you don't like the weather, wait a minute. this is the same time of year that winter olympics are going to happen and it's pouring with rain. let's hope it turns to snow. the winter park will be the most compact winter games park ever. the jewel in the crown will be the ice palace , home to russia 's national sport , ice hockey . i got to try out the ice with one of russia 's olympic skating legends. you make it look very effortless. back outside, if you look up from town, the snow is there. here, athletes, including from team u.s.a., have had a chance to test the terrain.

>> skiers are like a fine wine. we keep getting better with age. now that i'm hitting 30, i think i've just hit my vintage years.

>> reporter: brothers battle it out while billy demon was learning the land.

>> next year to be a blowout year for the united states in the olympic games .

>> reporter: here to try the new track, the men hoping to defend their bobsled gold four years ago. while the women's team have a new recruit from the southern track, lolo jones .

>> you can quit or work harder and pursue it and go after it even more. sometimes what you need is motivation.

>> reporter: 25,000 of them already excited for next year's games. time to test the snow myself. back down below, work continues. this is the first olympic park built from scratch. many of the stadiums have been comple completed, there's still a lot of unfinished business .

>> the biggest construction site in the world with more than 70,000 workers working 24/7.

>> reporter: will it be ready on time? he says yes. sochi really is a tale of two climates and construction sites for now. but in the mountains, president putin has promised snow. if it's like this, 12 months from now, that promise will come true. it should be pointed out that there were some worries about trial events last week due to a lack of snow. but up in the mountains behind me, fortunately, that's all changed. president putin has promised there will be snow. i've been reassured by the presidents of sochi 2014 that they're stockpiling just in case. talking of stockpiling, i've been doing a little myself, guys, with some sochi merchandise.

>> whoa!

>> wow!

>> very happy vest.

>> do they make that for men also, ben?

>> ooh.

>> nice.

>> reporter: they're selling out fast. i'll keep one aside.

>> all right. ben fogle in sochi this morning. thanks very