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Russia gets it's Sochi moment

Russia's first Winter Olympics have been filled with stories of athletes helping stray Sochi dogs escaped the exterminators. Despite the early concerns about Russia's ''nyet'' to gay rights it seems that Olympians have shown more concern about the pooches.

Then along came the recently freed punk group, Pussy Riot, to poop on President Vladimir Putin's very expensive party- In years to come, when people think ''Sochi,'' they will remember images of militia thugs who disgraced themselves and their country by horsewhipping the ladies from Pussy Riot on the streets of this Black Sea resort turned police state for the games.

For the host nation, Wednesday wasas bad as they come. In being so quick to reach for their whips and pepper spray, the Cossack militiamen who attacked Pussy Riot picked at the seams of the new image that Putin seeks to weave for Russia with his $51-billion bet on these games.

To top it off, Russia's ice hockey team fell in the quarterfinals to Finland. Then Russian skating sweetheart Julia Lipnitskaia slipped under the weight of crushing national expectations, falling on a triple flip that she usually nails.

But on Thursday the host nation finally gut their first truly transcendental moment. For 4 minutes and 9 seconds figure skater Adelina Sotnikova's pluck and majesty mesmerized fans around the world - Sotnikova finished her gold medal-winning skate, and Russian hearts - passionate, patriotic and on this night bursting with warmth - melted for their new champion.

Russians will remember this night, how Sotnikova's dress of Black Sea grey rippled against her thighs as she sped across the ice and how they held their breaths for her jumps, almost all executed to perfection. They will recall the thunder of the crowd stamping its feet in the Iceberg Skating Palace and its screaming mania as the judges' very generous score was announced. Neutrals and fans of Yuna Kim, as graceful in defeat on this night as she always is on the ice, will remember that they felt at best bemused and robbed at worse.

Despite what their critics say, no Olympics - not even these - are unrelentingly bad. Nor, as the International Olympic Committee would have us believe, are the games all sweetness and light. Instead, they are human - flawed, with good days and bad.


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