Attendees pose with cute, cuddly Winter Olympics mascots

7:33 AM, Feb 7, 2014   |    comments
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ROSA KHUTOR, Russia - Grown men hugging bunnies, tigers and bears? Oh my. This only happens when those creatures are Olympic mascots.

The hare, polar bear and leopard represent the Sochi 2014 Games - chosen after a live TV vote of the nation - a Russian version of NBC's The Voice without the singing.

Olympic officials say artists submitted ideas for the mascots in 2010. A total of 24,000 options were received. The mascots were chosen in 2011.

The figures of the three mascots are staged at Rosa Khutor, the mountain cluster about 40 minutes away from Sochi.

People of all ages have been lining up to get their pictures with the creatures. This is one of the few instances where age is not a factor.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime event for anyone," said Denis Arkhipov.

He traveled to Sochi to work during the Olympics, almost 1,800 miles away from his home.

"Many didn't believe that I will make it here, asked me why are you going?" Arkhipov said. "They didn't understand. I think one should have something inside to want to come here. You're going to be a changed person after you see the Olympics from the inside."

Everyone has to have the digital "I've been there moment," and the mascot picture is an Olympic must.

It's a way to get people in the Olympic spirit, something Tatiana Voskresenskaya doesn't need any help with.

"Yes, yes, yes, yes, I think everything will be ok," she said.

Everyone hopes so, but today is better than OK. It's a day to be a part of history, even if it means having a simple photo proving you were there.

"I think everything will be great, everyone is going to like it and the Team Russia will do a great job," Voskresenskaya said.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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