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

Sochi

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.

Best song

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.

Best threat

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.

Best book

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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor