Steel Shots: Steel Sets the Stage in Sochi

Sochi Steel Islands

The Sochi Olympics opening ceremony featured a majestic scenery of seven floating islands representing various regions of Russia. Steel truss framing was used to support the foam cladding and visual scenic elements on the islands, built mostly out of HSS 2-in. by 1-in. by 1/8-in. ASTM A500 grade B steel. The above photo shows the steel framing used for the island representing the forests of the Urals. Click on the photo for a view of the complete island as seen during the opening ceremony. Photos: Courtesy of Show Canada

The Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics have come to a close, but here’s a look at how steel set the stage for the ceremonies at Fisht Olympic Stadium.

Built primarily for the Sochi Olympics and Paralympics, serving as their Olympic Stadium, the 40,000-person open-air stadium boasts one of the largest indoor stages ever build, covering the entire stadium surface at around 120,000 sq. ft. Composed primarily of wide-flanges beams and HSS tubes, the total stage structure weight adds up to a staggering 2.7 million lbs.

Show Canada was given the mandate to design, manufacture and install the main stage and scenic elements for the ceremonies of Sochi’s Olympic Games. “The engineering department was required to design and engineer all of the structural elements according to the AISC Steel Construction Manual LRFD / AISC 360-10,” said Jean-Philippe Major, engineering director at Show Canada. 
The seven floating islands representing different regions of Russia, from the Kamchatka volcanoes and the forests of the Urals to icebound Lake Baikal of Siberia, were a part of the major canvas of the Olympics opening ceremony. 
The main engineering challenge was to design an optimized light steel truss framing to support the foam cladding and  visual scenic elements present on the islands, said Major. The frames were built mostly out of HSS 2-in. by 1-in. by 1/8-in. ASTM A500 grade B steel. Furthermore, the maximum allowable load of 2,400 lb. per rig point (four rig points total per island) was one of the main difficulties in the structural design of these very artistic scenery elements. Special connection between trusses for easy assembly and shipping were designed and engineered using Finite Element Analysis (FEA) and manual calculations to ensure the islands’ structural reliability.

For additional information and photos from the Sochi Olympics ceremonies, visit