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Looking Back on Sochi

LR publisher and founder Kim Zigfeld has published the final installment of her series on Sochi over on the powerful and influential American Thinker blog. Here are the links to the full series:

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3 responses to “Looking Back on Sochi

  1. JacobPG1 ⋅

    I read the piece of “Summing Up Sochi”. There are two opposing ways to sum up an Olympic event like this: do you see the glass half full or is it half empty? Do you care more about sports or do you care more about politics, or say human rights? As someone who cares a lot about winter sports, I watched all major events on TV and it was quite exquisite experience. As far as the organization of the sports events, judging, as well as closing opening ceremonies are concerned, it was all near superb. Overall, it was a big win for the sports. Having said that, it doesn’t mean I am fine with persecution of the gays or culling stray dogs.

    On the issue of “bad snow”, it wasn’t really that bad until the last week of games or so, when the half pipe competition started. There was even some natural snowfall a few times. Unfortunately, the mother nature did not always cooperate. This does happen all the time all over the place. Some seasons you don’t get great snow and temperature, and that’s that. And then you end up skiing on frosty or slushy man-made snow. As an amateur skier, I have skied a few times on “bad” snow in New Mexico, Colorado, and California. That doesn’t mean that those places should be shut out of hosting Winter Olympics in future. In any case, the “bad” snow affects everyone equally, so I don’t see how it could spoil the games. Granted, some half-pipe competitors said that the condition of the half-pipe made performing for some of the more extreme tricks more difficult, and so that may have affected the visual impact of the show for the spectators. However, Alpine skiing, cross-country, and biathlon looked superb.

    I also have an issue with some regarding Vik Wild’s medals as not fully Russian. Vik is married to a Russian snowboarder and he is a Russian citizen. I don’t see why his medals should be regarded somewhat less Russian than others. And note one thing: If Vik continued snowboarding as an American, chances are good that he wouldn’t have won any medals. The American snowboarding federation did not want to support him because they didn’t believe in him years ago, and that was that. I am sure they’re crying crocodile tears in the federation now. Also, note than one of Viktor Ahn’s three gold medals was a team relay competition medal, where the team consisted of four skaters. Despite of his speed skating prowess, I don’t think it’s correct to credit only Ahn with that medal, but not the other three Russians on the team. Call it a 3/4 Russian gold medal, if you will. Note that the American team also had some Russian-born athletes (like Shnapir). That shouldn’t make their medals less American IMHO.

    Finally, NBC’s and other sports channels’ coverage of the games was quite positive. They inserted a lot of documentaries between the sports events about Russia, and for the most part things were displayed in a good or neutral light. When Bob Costas took one minute in the final days to remind us about the chaos in Ukraine and the Russian anti-gay laws, it was almost like he was paying a lip service to those issues. If you didn’t turn on the TV on exactly that day and time, you might not have heard anything negative about Russia at all.

    Oh, and figure skating will always be figure skating. Personally, I thought Sotnikova was more deserving of gold medal because her program was more technically difficult, and there is a ton of people saying the same, for example NBC’s figure skating hosts Weir and Lipinski. As for Ice Dance, I just wish it wasn’t even a sport, although I am glad that Americans won there and quite deservingly IMHO.

    • larussophobe ⋅

      Thanks for your thoughtful and extensive comment!

      (1) “quite exquisite experience”

      Really? You found the sight of athletes writhing on the snow in pain after horrific crashes to be so? You found the total lack of world records to be so? You found the repeated denunciations by the athletes of the snow quality to be so?

      (2) “mother nature did not always cooperate”

      That’s going too far on your part. Much too far. The whole point of opposition to Sochi was that its latitude made this a predictable result. Russia wasn’t victimized, everyone knew this would happen. It was a major fault on Russia’s part in lodging the games in Sochi. It breached its responsibility to the world and acted out of pure hubris.

      (3) There is one reason, and one reason only, that the two Victors competed for Russia: They were cast out by their real countries. Nothing you say can change that. If countries can just grab any athlete from any other country, they can no longer claim credit for anything more than dealmaking.

      (4) What you say about Costas is flatly false. This was not his first editorial during the games about Russian dictatorship. He opened the games with a similar statement backed up by David Remnick and Vladimir Posner. Such statements are unheard of in the modern history of the games and extremely humiliating to Russia.

      (5) Dare you to name even one feature run by NBC about Russia that would be attractive to the young people of the West and make them want to visit Russia or think of it as cool. Essentially, the coverage of the games and Russia’s own behavior did nothing but emphatically confirm every stereotype the world has about Russia.

  2. JacobPG1 ⋅

    (1) People crashing and being injured in winter sports is nothing new. So it’s inaccurate to imply that we have seen the bad crashes just because of bad snow. America’s Lindsey Vonn injured her knee before even coming to Sochi. Was it because of bad snow? Maybe yes or may be not. The American half-pipe competitor Wise, and Sochi medalist was badly injured and suffered from collapsed lung, just months before Sochi games. The issue is that when you ski down hill at 80mph or jump 40 ft up in the air, this can happen no matter where you ski.

    I don’t know what world records you’re talking about. There isn’t really such a thing as a “world record” in disciplines like alpine, cross-country, or freestyle skiing. That’s because the venues change all the time. The time it takes to ski down the mountain in Colorado is incomparable to skiing down a similar course on a different mountain in Russia. All courses are different. In fact, if world class competition returns to Sochi, it’s not clear if say Alpine slalom times will still be comparable to what we saw in the Olympic games because the course is going to be different. As for other, “more controlled” disciplines, such as speed skating, we did see a few Olympic Records. One was set by Dutch for example. That’s because the skating track is identical in all places, so you can actually compare the times it takes to go around it.

    (2) Actually latitude by itself is not a big factor in how suitable the climate is for winter sports. For example, Sochi’s latitude is somewhere on the level of Dever, Colorado. And then going further south from Colorado to New Mexico, you can still hold a world class winter competition places like Taos area of New Mexico. I think altitude matters just as well as other conditions. Sochi is near a warm sea, and that’s what helps meditate its climate. Sochi is also at sea level. However, Sochi’s Alpine resort Rosa Khutor has a top elevation of about 7500ft at the top, which is quite passable for good skiing, specially if you don’t feel like buying an expensive ticket to some place like Vail, Colorado. I think Sochi’s conditions would have been perfect if the games were some time in January. It seems like Rosa Khutor, just like some ski areas in New Mexico has a shorter ski season.

    (4) I saw all the interviews with Vladimir Posner. I don’t think he painted Russia as bad or good. Yes, he mentioned the appalling situation of gay rights media censorship, but he is not a Russia critic the way this web site is. He said with a bit of pride IMO that the point of games was to say that “Russia is back”.

    (5) Well, I am not a young person and I don’t think I am capable of deciphering what goes in the heads of the young people. For example, Formula 1 is a world class sport and one of the most popular in the world, and yet I constantly hear discussions, why aren’t young people watching this? Who knows? I don’t think what they think should be held as the “benchmark” of the organization of the Olympic games or the related TV shows. Maybe they don’t care about things today, but I have met older Americans who have enjoyed visiting St Petersburg with its great museums and traveling on the Trans-Siberian railroad, some of key tourist attractions in Russia, and I think NBC had a piece on those. Sochi itself doesn’t seem to be interesting enough to visit from half-way across the world, but I think it will be a big tourist destination among Russians. Sochi was a Soviet vision of a summer resort and wasn’t maintained since the 90s, part of the reason why it cost so much to build up its infrastructure. If there are now good hotels, roads, and airports there, I can imagine Russians will consider going back there in summer instead of say Turkey or Egypt.

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