By Duncan Mackay

Iceberg Palace with Bolshoi in backgroundNovember 27 - Venues in the costal cluster for Sochi 2014 are close to being completed in time for a series of test events next month and early in 2013 , Russian President Vladimir Putin has been assured. 

The Iceberg Skating Palace is the first venue to host an event when it welcomes the ISU (International Skating Union) Grand Prix of Figure Skating final between December 6 and 9. 

The Bolshoi Ice Dome and adjacent Shayba Arena will host ice-hockey matches, with the final touches underway at both venues as they also prepare for major international test events early next year.

Alexander Zhukov, the President of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), has held a meeting with Putin to update him on the progress and to invite him to attend the test events at the Olympic Park.

"The main thing is, [these venues] are adopted for training of our teams in the best manner," Zhukov was quoted by the Kremlin as telling Putin during their meeting.

"We have created several, so-to-say, experimental teams specially for studying these venues' characteristics, and they are working there now."

With much of the work now completed on the main venues, outfitting inside the stadia is being finished and landscaping in the areas outside them are being started.

"This three-year construction will soon be over," Murat Ahmadiev, the section supervisor of Olimstry, the company building the faciltiies, told television channel Russia Today

"Right now, we are in the process of laying down the asphalt and applying the finishing touches.

"We've already got the grass surface here.

"Inside, we're doing decoration and furnishings.

"And soon we'll start comprehensive testing, in other words, testing all the equipment and facilities in the building."

The Bolshoi Ice Dome is a permanent structure, the neighboring Shayba Arena is a moveable venue and could even be dismantled and transported to another Russian city after the Winter Olympics and Winter Paralympics.

Bolshoi Ice Palace from outside November 2012The Bolshoi Ice Palace is set to host the Ice Hockey Under-18 World Championships next April

The Bolshoi is due to host the Ice Hockey Under-18 World Championships from April 18 to 28

"The arena is 100 per cent ready to receive hockey players and guests – and host future victories," said Sergey Tutushkin, a spokesman for the constructors, told Russia Today.

"All we have to do is turn on all the utilities.

"So now we're cleaning up and furnishing the place, and then we'll be ready to open our doors."

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