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Sunday, February 23, 2014

The 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games are over.  After making so much fun of President Vladimir Putin, he prevailed after all.  Not only was there no sign of terrorism, and the norovirus did not attack, Russia easily won the most medals:

The United States came in second and Norway third.  However, Canada did beat Sweden for Men's Hockey Gold.  Two hundred and ninety-five medals were awarded.

What a comeback, for, since the fall of the Berlin Wall and end of the Cold War, Russia's performance in the Winter Olympics has been dismal.  Since 1992:
  • second
  • third
  • sixth
  • fifth
  • sixth
Considering that the Soviet Union won every previous Winter Olympics, falling to #2 only in 1968 and 1980, by one medal each time, this recovery was impressive.  How did Russia go from a total of 15 medals and only three golds in Vancouver to what you see above?
  • They recruited Victor An (formerly known as Hyun-soo Ahn of South Korea), who anchored the Russian speedskating team, which won three golds and a bronze.  He missed beating the entire South Korean speedskating short track team by one medal.
  • They recruited Victor (note that they are both Victors--and this is a purposeful pun) Wild, an American from the Pacific Northwest, who has a Russian wife.  Wild gained Russian citizenship, training paradise (something the USA did not do for his specialty, which was the snowboard parallel giant slalom), and two golds.  
  • Take away those six medals and the USA easily beats Russia.
  • Host nations always over perform anyway.  The crowd is supportive and the food/language provides comfort.
  • Russia developed a four-year plan and provided wide and comprehensive support for training, winning medals in ten different winter sports.
As it was, the USA did great, for the twelve new events added in Sochi resulted in sufficient medals that without them we would have finished fifth overall in medals and only four golds, fewer than Belarus.  Consider that from 1952 to 2002 the USA never finished higher than third in total medal count.  During the past three Winter Olympics, second is the worst we've done.

Was Sochi worth it?  Supposedly, the $51 billion (some say the final bill will be in the neighborhood of $67 billion) was more than the cost of all the other Winter Olympics, COMBINED!!!.

Remember that Opening Ceremony ring that did not open?

In Russia television viewers saw the rehearsal success and not this failure.  But Konstantin Ernst, who was responsible for this embarrassment, wore this t-shirt with the goof:

His sense of  humor led to success in the Final Ceremonies, for he had five group of dancers begin with:

But this missing ring came alive:

Some final photos:

The final second of the Olympic Flame:


Note that Pyongyang is also indicated.  There is some hope that North Korea's new Masik Pass ski resort might be utilized as one of the Olympic venues.  PyeongChang is close to the DMZ (De-Militarized Zone).  The 2018 Winter Olympics could well serve a key role in reconciliation.  


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