Russian SROAM Student Reflects on Sochi

Irina Smolina Soaks in Canadian Expereince


With the world’s eyes turning to Sochi this month, a Selkirk College student is watching with pride as her motherland basks in its moment of glory.

Irina Smolina is a first-year Ski Resort Operations & Management Program (SROAM) student who is setting a course for a career in snow-capped mountains. With the Sochi Winter Olympics heading into its final weekend, the Moscow native says Russia has succeeded in its goal of capturing the planet’s attention.

Russian SROAM student

Irina Smolina is loving her new life at Nelson's Tenth Street Campus.

“People have an image of Russia in their head and it’s usually formed by sources that are not entirely accurate,” says Smolina. “People know about Russia on the surface and it’s important to show people how we really are. I think a sports competition like the Olympics is a good tool to show the world. It’s a way to make good, quick and efficient connections with other people.”

Sochi Rises Above Expectations

It’s been difficult for Smolina to be far from home during Russia’s big moment, but she has kept tabs through television and instant updates on her phone. Smolina feels it’s the right time for the world to focus on her home.

“I am happy that Russia finally has the opportunity to host the Olympic Games,” she says. “My parents told me about when Moscow hosted the Summer Olympics [in 1980] and for them it was fascinating. For local people, they took so much pride in this. My parents were volunteers; everybody was so proud and excited.”

The Sochi Games have not been without controversy. Before the torch was even lit, Smolina and her classmates used the Games as a learning tool in the classroom.

“There is a lot of controversial information about the money spent and concerns about the future use of the venues they have built,” Smolina says. “We talked about this in our tourism class and these are typical questions for every Olympic Games. This is nothing new to Russia and I think for developing countries like Russia—developing in terms of tourism—they really need this to boost the economy.”

Though still a ways from graduation—SROAM is a two-year program—Smolina says the Sochi Games may even provide her with a future opportunity in the industry she loves.

“I think I can go back to Russia at some point, especially with having hosted the Olympic Games,” she says. “The big resorts they have built in Sochi, they will need qualified management to help attract people back to those venues when the Olympics are over.”

You can read the full story on Smolina at


Learn more about the Ski Resort & Operations Management Program and join us on Facebook.