Billion-dollar Sochi Games a sporting success

Fri Dec 19, 2014 2:27pm EST
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By Karolos Grohmann

BERLIN (Reuters) - The Sochi 2014 winter Olympics have gone down in history as the most expensive sports event ever organized with a staggering cost of more than $51 billion.

The legacy left by Russia's first winter Games is one of gleaming purpose-built arenas with little or no post-Games use, a massive overhaul of infrastructure at the Black sea resort and a record price tag that triggered changes for future Olympics.

Despite months of bad press in the run up to the Games over Russia's human rights record and anti-gay propaganda law, when the competitions started the Olympics were a sporting success.

With Russian President Vladimir Putin in the stands for a project he helped bring to his country back in 2007, when sports took center stage, the fate of stray dogs, double toilets and #sochiproblems top trending on Twitter all slipped into the background.

American snowboarder Shaun White failed to shine again on the Olympic stage, withdrawing over safety fears in the inaugural slopestyle competition leaving Sage Kotsenburg as the first ever Olympic slopestyle gold medalist.

The women's ski jumping competition was also one of 12 new events, with teenage American Sarah Hendrickson becoming the first woman to soar through the air at an Olympics, going on to finish 21st.

Germany's Carina Vogt flew 104.5 meters to win the milestone event, the culmination of a 13-year fight by female athletes to be allowed to take part.

Another first was the shared gold medal in the women's downhill at Rosa Khutor's 2,713 metre-long run, with Slovenia's Tina Maze and Swiss Dominique Gisin both clocking one minute 41.57 seconds.   Continued...

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach of Germany and Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) stand together during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, February 7, 2014. REUTERS/Phil Noble