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Kudos to Russia

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Now that the spectacular closing ceremonies have taken place at the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, it is time to review the Games. In a word, the Sochi Organizing Committee did a “spectacular” job. Before the Games there were swirling security concerns, allegations of corruption and accommodations that were less than stellar. At the end of the Games one can only conclude that Mr. Putin’s Games lived up to his expectations and proved the critics wrong.

The XXII Olympic Winter Games were by far the most extravagant and expensive in Olympic history. In spite of the fact that the Winter Games are about one third the size of the summer Olympic Games, the opening and closing ceremonies and the world class venues exceeded any previous Winter Games and rivaled some of the spectacular Summer Games venues and ceremonies. In short, Sochi set the bar very high for future Winter Games, which occur next in Pyongyang, South Korea in 2018.

No matter how you evaluate the Winter Games in Sochi, those who attended and those who watched the television broadcast were all impressed with the scale and grandeur of the Games including the setting on the Black Sea framed by the Caucasus Mountains, not to mention the incredible venues, the most outstanding of which was the 40,000 seat stadium used for Opening and Closing Ceremonies.

The Russian Olympic Team won the medal count with a total of 33, most ever for a Russian Team at a Winter Games. They also won the gold medal count with 13. The United States was second with 28 medals followed closely by Norway with 26. A record 88 nations competed in the Winter Games setting a new record for participation. The previous record was 82 set in Vancouver in 2010.

Television ratings in the US were down slightly due to the fact that most events were broadcast tape delayed due to the nine hour time difference and most fans were aware of the results well before the prime time broadcast. Television ratings in the US were down 9 percent from the 2010 broadcast with a rating of 4.8 or roughly 21 million viewers.

On the other hand there were magical moments and some disappointments. The US excelled in the newer, free style sports while underperforming on the more traditional winter sports. Big disappointments for the US included the failure of the men’s hockey team to medal and Bode Miller’s poor performance in Alpine skiing. On the other hand the four man bobsled team for the US won bronze and the first medal in that sport in 62 years.

Those who attended the Winter Games enjoyed the experience and aside from some opening day full body searches, the security was excellent and the fan experience was outstanding. Sochi now has two weeks to recover before hosting the Paralympic Winter
Games. NBC will broadcast 52 hours of coverage of the events, most in Paralympic history. So, stay tuned. Sochi is not done yet. Meanwhile, future bid cities may be forced to meet the bar set by Russia. Bottom line? Sochi did an outstanding job of hosting the biggest and most grand Olympic Winter Games ever.

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