By Duncan Mackay

Sochi 2014_countdown_clock_with_500_days_to_go_2September 25 - Sochi 2014 today marked 500 days until the start of the Winter Olympics by unveiling their official slogan, which is "Hot. Cool. Yours."

Russian officials said that the word "hot" is meant to symbolise the intensity of the Games for competitors and spectators, "cool" refers to the time of the year when the Olympics are being held and how Russia is perceived in the eyes of the world, while "yours" expresses how the crowd can empathise with those taking part.

The punctuation marks in between each word are an added touch, intended to convey the high-tech equipment used in the Games by reminding the viewer of a web address, organisers said.

"Russia in many ways is a country of contrasts and we wanted to emphasise that in the slogan," said Dmitry Chernyshenko, the President and chief executive of Sochi 2014 when he unveiled the slogan at a special ceremony in Moscow.

"The climate is cold but the hospitality is warm.

"The Olympics are winter but Sochi is a southern city, and you could list many other contrasts here, so we picked this slogan."

In Russian, the slogan reads slightly differently: "Hot. Wintry. Yours."

Olympic hosts traditionally choose a slogan to embody give their Games an individual flavour and brand identity.

The slogan for this summer's London Olympics was "Inspire a generation", while Vancouver 2010 visitors were invited to participate "With Glowing Hearts," a line from the national anthem.

The Sochi slogan, which was first informally revealed by Chernyshenko on a television talk show last night, got a mixed reception in Russia, with many people mocking its slightly suggestive wording.

"The official slogan of the Sochi Olympics sounds like an ad for a premium sex line," wrote Twitter user Sergey Evdokimov.

Sochi 2014_500_days_to_go_celebrationsCelebrations to mark 500 days until the start of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics took place across Russia

But Chernyshenko is confident that the slogan will help the Russian people feel connected to the Games, the first time the Olympics have been held in Russia since the boycotted Summer event of Moscow in 1980.

"The Sochi 2014 slogan says it's impossible not to take part, impossible not to watch, impossible not to get excited and it's worth being proud because these are our Games." he said.

The 500-day countdown to the Games, which are due to open on February 7 in 2014, was also celebrated in 17 cities throughout Russia, where various sporting and cultural events were taking place with participation of over 12,000 volunteers, recruited from 26 Volunteer Centres. 

At the squares, stadiums and indoor sports complexes in their respective cities, more than 12,000 volunteers participated in flashmobs that saw the construction of giant Olympic pictograms, having collected a total of all 22 images of disciplines that make up the Winter Olympics, 

Symbolic 500 metres relays representing the winter Olympic sports, were also held in the cities.

The idea had been proposed by Margarita Zharkova and Andrei Botsulko from the Sochi 2014 Volunteer Training Centre at the Kuban State Technological University.

In each city the relay was dedicated to a different type of sport.

Sochi 2014_flashmob_in_MoscowVolunteers take part in flash mob to mark the 500-days before Sochi 2014 in Moscow

In Moscow, in an imitation of ice hockey, participants completed the relay in hockey helmets on roller blades; the challenge was to avoid obstacles while they were skating, keeping possession of the ball with a hockey stick and taking their shots at the centre of the track.

In Sochi, the participants of the relay demonstrated "snowboarding", covering a set distance on skateboards and passing each other the relay baton. 

In Volgograd, speed skating was imitated on roller skates; and in Novocherkassk, "bobsleigh" team members completed an obstacle course using cones on a longboard.

The largest-scale flashmob was held in Krasnodar, where 2,000 Sochi 2014 volunteers formed five pictograms on Theatre Square: "bobsleigh", "skeleton", "cross-country skiing", "freestyle cross-country skiing" and "ski Jumping".

Moscow was in second place, 1,600 volunteers completing four pictogram puzzles at the All-Russian Exhibition Centre: "speed skating", "figure skating", "half-pipe snowboarding" and "snowboard cross".

In 13 other cities, each group of volunteers completed one pictogram each, symboliisng an Olympic Winter sport.

In several cities, relays and flashmobs were accompanied by the performances of musical and dance groups as well as children's entertainers.

"We have reached another significant milestone: there are now only 500 days remaining until the XXII Olympic Winter Games," said Chernyshenko. 

"In fact, we have entered the finishing straight in our preparations for this extremely important event in Russia's history.

"I'm glad that this celebration has managed to involve, both in terms of spectacle and the scale, the whole country into Games preparations."

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]