"$50 billion down the drain" was the early verdict from outraged journalists arriving in the Black Sea resort town to discover their hotel rooms were not ready. No Olympics is complete without the usual organization and security dramas, and Sochi was under fire long before it began with a snowflake false start.
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But in between the complaints, there was plenty to enjoy in sporting triumph, fashion fails, terror, joy and comedy.
The best of Sochi
Ted Ligety:The American skier took gold in the men's giant slalom, becoming the first non-European to win the competition, and reinvented the sport in the process, thrilling crowds with rapid turns that began before the last one ended.
Yulia Lipnitskaya: A star was born in the 15-year-old Russian, whose stunning performance secured gold for the host nation in team skating and attracted comparisons to Soviet gymnast Olga Korbut. She fell short in the individual event, but a glorious future seems assured.
The worst of Sochi
Vanessa Mae: The Singapore-born British concert violinist was given a surprising chance to represent Thailand in skiing at age 35, but failed in finishing last of 67 competitors, and was criticized for cheapening the sport.
Shaun White: There was to be no repeat of the American’s gold-winning performances in 2006 and 2010, as the heavy favorite slumped to a shocking upset in the snowboard halfpipe and finished outside the medal positions. He also angered fans and organizers by withdrawing from the slopestyle event citing safety concerns.
Yuki Tsubota: ThisJapanese slopestyle competitor had to be airlifted to safety after a terrifying crash, but is believed to have suffered only a minor jaw injury.
Maria Komissarova: The Russian freestyle skier suffered a back fracture in training and has been forced to undergo surgery.
Curling rabbits: The mascots were in stellar form throughout the Games, never more so than while demonstrating the finer points from one of the less understandable events.
Figure skater faces: The most popular GIFs and videos have featured the intense and strange expressions skaters have that are captured at just the right moment on film. See more here.
Norwegian curling team: Their trousers made everybody else look boring, but it must have been embarrassing to dress like boiled sweets.
Skeleton helmets: The only visible body part in the scary event was fully accessorized, with the ‘brain’ design among our favorites.
Ring rusty: The opening ceremony was spectacular, with one famous exception that local TV hilariously covered up.
Yellow-colored water: The most vivid example of media suffering at the troubled beginning.
The Russian president was unavoidable, often appearing to be in multiple places at once. Whether he was advising athletes, testing the facilities or basking in glory with a stiff drink, nobody was in any doubt these were Vlad's games.