Getting on board with the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games has not been easy. There are Russia’s abhorrent new anti-gay laws, which put the country firmly on the wrong side of history. There are reports of stray dogs being killed by poison darts. There are half-built hotels and bathroom stalls with double toilets. There are spring-like conditions, turning the snow into messy soup and screwing with even the most experienced competitors (didn’t anyone notice that Sochi has a subtropical climate?!). But despite all of that, these Olympics have had their moments, and when the circus packs up on February 23, I’ll be sad to see it go—for these reasons, among many others.
Foreign stars They are names we don’t know from countries we’ve never visited, but for these two weeks they infiltrate our consciousness and shine. Suddenly, I’m rooting for a 40-year-old Russian biathlete to teach these kids how it’s done or watching Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla come from 25 seconds back in the cross-country relay to take the gold with pure grit. Badass.
Real sportsmanship While the NFL playoffs were mired in debate over Richard Sherman’s passionate post-game outburst, the Olympics have been full of quiet examples of impeccable sportsmanship, like at the end of the men’s normal hill ski jumping when Polish gold medalist Kamil Stoch was hoisted atop the shoulders of his foreign competitors for a well-deserved victory lap.
Weird sports And honestly, who came up with biathlon, anyway? Or curling, for that matter? Or skeleton? For the next four years I will forget what skeleton even is, but right now I’m too busy cheering on Team USA’s head-first specialist Noelle Pikus-Pace to worry about that.
Ridiculous videos An Indian luger who falls off his sled mid-run and gets back on. A Swedish slopestyle skier who wears his pants so baggy they literally fall down during qualifying. An American luger who busts a serious move to Beyoncé as a warm-up before hitting the ice. The Olympics are so entertaining, I don’t even care who wins.