Sochi Fail? Nobody told the athletes

Thu Feb 6, 2014 11:00am EST
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By Julian Linden

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - The winter wonderland Russian officials had promised the sporting world burst into life on Thursday as the first events of the Sochi Olympics got underway on the eve of the opening ceremony.

The doom and gloom that has shrouded the lead-up to the Games was momentarily forgotten as athletes reclaimed the spotlight from politicians on a picture-perfect winter's day.

In the Caucasus Mountains high above Sochi, the world's best snowboarders took off, unveiling all their mesmerizing, daredevil tricks against the backdrop of a brilliant blue sky and golden sun, the first time for 30 years that Winter Olympic action had taken place ahead of the opening ceremony.

Nearby, alpine skiers hit the piste at Rosa Khutor, charging down the snowy mountain without a care in the world.

Down at the Black Sea resort where the ice events are being staged, competitors were getting ready for the first figure skating events, as excitement in Sochi built.

If recent history is any guide, the pessimism that has engulfed the Games during the lead-up will quickly melt and the Sochi Olympics may come to be remembered as a stunning success.

The build-up to almost all recent Olympics has been marred by controversy and scandal but the power of sport has invariably won through.


Members of the British Olympic Team attend a welcoming ceremony for the team in the Athletes Village, at the Olympic Park ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi February 6, 2014. REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh