Let’s not kid ourselves; people’s expectations for the Sochi Olympics were pretty low. The Western world was fully aware that the Olympics, costing $50 billion and counting (topping the $40 billion of the Beijing Summer Olympics) was intended to showcase the power of Vladimir Putin’s ‘Modern Russia.’ Not only was the location of Sochi, a balneal resort home to Putin’s summer dacha (i.e. vacation home), heavily questioned, but so was Russia’s interior and international discourse regarding the games. After all, Russia had been in the news for all the wrong reasons, and it seemed that every human (and animal) rights organisation was glaring at Mother Russia.
The highly criticised anti-gay laws, the massacre of the dogs, the displacement of essentially the entire town of Sochi, the dispatching of the American navy to the Black Sea; it seemed as if the Olympics were just going to be a giant confused, political mess with occasional sports in between. By the time the army of journalists arrived on Sochi’s welcome mat, most of the hotels in town were missing roofs, pipes and doorknobs. This sleepy Russian town had really managed to put “très chic” into “yellow acid flowing out of my faucet…let me wash my face with Evian water like Kim Kardashian because that’s the only thing available.” Alas, there appeared to be no hope for the Olympics.
But lo and behold! How Putin proved us all wrong! Let me just say, the $50 billion was well spent. After all the ups and downs, the drama, the melting ice, and Kurt Browning’s sassy commentary, let us reminisce the hot and nots of the Sochi Olympics games!
HOT: Trumpets! Lights! Fireworks! Emergency Putin Facelift! Let the Hunger Games Begin! The Opening Ceremony really showed the world what Russia does best: fanfare, drama, ballet, and a lil’ bit of racism. With the guiding hand of Lubov, who was meant to represent “the feminine soul of Russia”, we are taken through thousands of years of Russian history. We see her floating around as she makes her way towards the centre of the stage, where the infamous Olympic Rings failure took place. Let’s be real, who else thought that Putin was going to cut the cord on poor Lubov right there and then? Thankfully, Putin spared her soul.
NOT: The controversy around the women’s figure skating. Russia’s Adelina Sotnikova somehow got gold over South Korea’s Kim Yuna, who won gold in Vancouver and was a shoe-in to win again in Sochi. How did she do it? No one knows. According to The New York Times, not even Kurt Browning can figure this conundrum out. All we do know is that little Adelina was photographed hugging one of the judges. On the topic of figure skating: Russia’s 15 year old Yulia Lipnitskaya skating to the score from Schindler’s List was probably between Julianne Hough dressing up in blackface for Halloween and Justin Bieber pointing to Anne Frank in Heaven on the bad-taste spectrum. Many tears were also shed for Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir’s last ice dance of their careers. Can that pair just get married already? Their chemistry is too much to handle.
HOT: Women’s Hockey! Men’s hockey! Holla! I’m pretty sure all of Canada bathed in American tears. Despite losing to the great nation of Canada, the Swedish men’s hockey team had two defining attributes: 1) all their names end in “sson” 2) they all look like Norse Gods. I wouldn’t mind them setting up my IKEA furniture.
NOT: The awkward moment when Russia lost against Finland in Men’s Hockey after Putin said that that would be the only medal he counted. The reactions of the US Women’s Hockey Team losing the gold medal game to a goal post were also heart-breaking to see.
HOT: The Dutch wiping the floor in speed skating. The Dutch knew exactly what they were doing; specialise in a sport with dozens of disciplines and just creep up the medal count. We know your secret, Holland!
NOT: The temperatures in Sochi were so warm that people complained that the speed-skate track was too soft; the men’s halfpipe course nearly melted away and, during the 50km biathlon, men were wearing shorts and t-shirts. Meanwhile, Putin suntanned in his dacha.
HOT/NOT: Ah, the Jamaican bobsleigh team. Despite qualifying for the Olympics, they weren’t sure they were going to make it due to lack of funding. So with the help of the Internet and donations, the team raised $178, 000 which got them to Sochi but not their equipment. Thanks to Delta, their luggage arrived a day late, forcing them to miss out on a critical day of training. Even though they came last, the Jamaican team is still ‘the hottest thing on ice.’
HOT: Tinder in the Olympic Village. Hot. Cool. Be mine?
Despite the hiccups, Sochi 2014 closed with a bang and proved once again that #WeAreWinter. Thank you Putin for giving us those dead eyed stares, creepy Olympic mascots, and the warmest Olympic games ever. See you in 2018 at the Pyeongchang (i.e. NOT the capital of North Korea) Olympics!