Winter Olympics 2014: The best and worst of Sochi
Smiles and scowls, whips and slips, fallen stars and rising tension –these Games have been a real variety show
Sunday 23 February 2014
Best Mr & Mrs
Within a handful of minutes Vic Wild and his Russian wife Alena Zavarzina collected Olympic medals. Wild, an American who switched allegiance to his wife's country when they got married, won snowboarding gold after Zavarzina had taken bronze in the women's equivalent.
Top of the flops (1)
Elise Christie's Games could not have gone any worse. The British speed skater did not finish any of her three events, being penalised or disqualified in the 500m, 1,000m and the 1500m. The sight of her thudding into the cushions that surround the rink, sent crashing out of the 1,000m semi-final on Friday night, was an undignified end to a dire two weeks.
In curling terms this went to the British, with David Murdoch's supporters' lonely rendition of the Tartan Army chorus "We'll be coming down the road" topping the Canadian fans' "Let's go, Canada, let's go". But nothing will top the sight of the Russian Ministry of the Interior's uniformed choir covering Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" at the opening ceremony.
Best sister act
Everywhere you looked in Sochi there were siblings. Britain had the Musgraves, the Swiss had four sets of siblings. But the No 1 family affair came in the women's moguls, when Justine Dufour-Lapointe and her sister Chloe took gold and silver. They were watched by their eldest sister, Maxime, who had also competed in the same event.
It's all orange
It was impossible to miss the Dutch, dressed in orange and riding orange bikes around the Olympic Park. Their route was a well-ridden one – to the speed-skating venue and then off to the medals plaza. Outside the relays, the Dutch won 23 speed-skating medals. Everyone else managed nine. In four events they swept the podium. Job done.
Best known unknown
Ole Einar Bjoerndalen could not be less of a sporting star. Even in his native Norway he is affectionately regarded as being just a little bit dull. He is, though, the country's greatest-ever sportsman and now the most decorated Winter Olympian. Two golds here took his tally of Olympic medals to 13. Nobody has won more.
Worst response to a blatant PR stunt
The image of a Cossack wielding a whip against women was another damaging, self-inflicted blow to Russia's image, as was the arrest of two of the Pussy Riot activists on trumped-up charges. But there are times when the Russians don't seem to care what anybody thinks of them. They got the Games, and they put on the Games exactly as they wanted.
Worst piece of kit
The Jamaicans had to beg, borrow, scrimp and save to get themselves and their two-man bobsled team here. On their second run, driver Winston Watts got so excited that when he snapped shut the visor on his helmet, it broke, and they set off with it flapping. "I thought, 'I'm still going, I'm not going to stop. I'll show the world I still have heart'," said Watts.
The Russians were not amused by media reports before the Games about the chaos surrounding some of the accommodation – The Independent was ticked off by Pravda for recounting journalists' tales of woe – and no one was grumpier than Dmitry Kozak, Russia's deputy prime minister. He claimed that journalists were deliberately flooding bathrooms – a fact he "knew" because there were secret cameras hidden in hotel rooms. Cue the world's media searching bathrooms from top to bottom. No cameras were found.
Spotted in the media area of the Ice Cube – the venue for what at times did feel like an endless event – an important book for any first-timer: Curling for Dummies. It's available on Amazon if you're interested.
Best of British
Britain's two most successful athletes here, Lizzy Yarnold and David Murdoch, may be from different ends of the country, but they do have something in common. Both are of farming stock – Yarnold grew up on her parents' dairy farm in Kent, while Murdoch was raised on a dairy farm outside Lockerbie.
Top of the flops (2)
Alexander Ovechkin was supposed to be the star of this Games. And if not him then it would be Evgeni Plushenko. And if not him then Julia Lipnitskaya. The two skaters got Russia off to a flying start with gold in the team event on the opening weekend, but that was that. Ovechkin managed to score just one goal before the Russians were hustled out of the ice hockey competition in the quarter-finals by Finland.
Worst mind games
Soren Gran, Britain's curling coach, is a happy man. He put the smile back on skip David Murdoch's face too, and that was a factor in winning silver. But he also had a pop at the Canadians, their opponents in the final – Gran doesn't like their aggressive style – and that made them even angrier. Result: Britain received a bigger whipping than Pussy Riot.
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