A charming, toothsome baby mammoth apparently was the frontrunner to be the official mascot of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics as recently as last year, but fittingly, all traces of it seem to have vanished. What we have left are the 11 monstrosities pictured below, named recently as finalists for Russia’s first Winter Games. They’re just another collection of baffling, nonsensical cartoon characters; as if the Island of Misfit Toys were located in close proximity to the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Apparently these finalists will be whittled down to one winner sometime this month.
But it recently came to my attention that some Russians actually had an idea for a cool Olympic mascot, Dima the Baby Mammoth (left). Look at him! What’s not to love? Adults will find him beguiling and mysterious, and children will want to hug him back to extinction. The only problem is, he’s not among the finalists (below). What gives?
Yep, that’s a dolphin on skis there on the end, which was actually the top vote-getter in a country-wide election last year. Also we have the Russian version of Santa Claus, “Father Frost”; a fiery hell demon; and what appears to be the Twitter logo.
Meanwhile, what of Dima? Considered a sure thing as recently as 2009, I’ve heard nothing of him since. There is of course a real Dima; the remarkably preserved remains of a baby mammoth which was discovered near the town of Magadan, Siberia in 1977. The specimen is located in St. Petersurg, where the Dima mascot idea was also born.
That, plus the more recent discovery of another well-preserved baby mammoth calf, have led to some scientists claiming that a woolly mammoth can be cloned within five years. Dima Fever has reached such high levels in Russia that animators have begun work on a series of cartoons starring the mammoth, and a mascot version actually visited the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010 on a “fact-finding” tour. And really, what better mascot to represent Russia, a country which wants to be thought of in a modern light, with an eye on cutting-edge scientific discovery? If things work out right, there could actually be a cloned woolly mammoth walking around by 2014. Best mascot ever! So where is it now?
My guess is that, as with all Russian politics, the “11 finalists” above are just a diversion to make the Russian people think that they’re involved in the process. Dima was the official government choice all along, and will be installed as Winter Olympics mascot in a secret ceremony at the Kremlin next week.
Evaluating the 11 candidates for Russia’s 2014 Olympic mascot [Fourth-Place Medal]
Dima the baby mammoth to be Sochi 2014 mascot?