In a quest to win international prestige, Russia has bulldozed homes to make room for what it says will be the biggest winter Olympics ever. They've even been reserving extra snow in underground storage facilities in case Mother Nature doesn't cooperate.

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The 2014 Sochi Games will see the addition of 12 new sports, from team figure skating to half pipe freestyle skiing, bringing the total to 98 medal events in 15 sports. Two sports — men's and women's ski cross — were added in the 2010 Games.

The other new events are mixed relay biathlon, men and women's slopestyle freestyle skiing, team relay luge, women's ski jumping, men and women's slopestyle snowboarding, and men and women's parallel slalom snowboarding.

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Even the torch relay is being expanded: it will measure 65,000 kilometers, up from 45,000 in Vancouver. The flame is scheduled to travel by plane, train, car, on foot, and by troika, a traditional Russian sleigh pulled by horses or reindeer.

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Some are wondering whether the vastness of the area in which the Games will take place (69 of the medal events will take place in the mountains, 48 kilometers from the coast) will pose logistical challenges: athletes may receive medals the day after competition, for example.

The price tag is also ginormous: $18 billion, reports the Wall Street Journal, including $2 billion for the organizing committee, $8 billion for constructing the venues, and $7.2 billion for the rail and highway project.

Photo: A model of the Olympic village at Sochi.