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Rediff.com  » Sports » What they said at Sochi: 'This is not like Russia. Everything goes smoothly'

What they said at Sochi: 'This is not like Russia. Everything goes smoothly'

February 24, 2014 14:37 IST

What they said at Sochi: 'This is not like Russia. Everything goes smoothly'

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The Sochi Winter Olympics had it’s exciting times. The events and the controversies grabbed a lot of attention. But what was said added spice to the event.

Here are some of the words that have impacted the Games and will stay long after the Games close...

"A very large amount of money has been invested. Now is not the time to discuss whether it was worth it, or whether the prices were inflated or not. Let the supervisory bodies deal with that, and they will deal with it." - Russian President Vladimir Putin, reacting to criticism about the Games' record-breaking price tag.

"We're like jolly little parrots." - Anna Kostareva from St Petersburg, one of 18,500 Olympic volunteers in garish, technicolour jackets with kaleidoscopic patterns in blue, pink, orange, green and a few more hues besides.

"This is not like Russia. Everything goes smoothly." - Norwegian tourist Ivar Bogeberg.

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Image: Russian President Vladimir Putin walks through the arena after the Flower Ceremony for the Team Figure Skating
Photographs: Darren Cummings/Pool/Getty Images

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'The Olympics create a space for the complete destruction of human rights in Russia'

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"My friends are there at the Maidan, people I know, close friends of mine. To go on the start line when people are dying and when the authorities broke the main rule of the Olympic competition, which is peace -- I simply cannot do it." - Ukrainian skier Bogdana Matsotska on her decision to withdraw from Russia's first Winter Games in protest against Ukraine's now-former President Viktor Yanukovich.

"It was the language of the enemy." - Yoshiro Mori, head of Tokyo 2020 Olympics and former Japan Prime Minister on why he did not learn English as a young man.

"The Olympics create a space for the complete destruction of human rights in Russia." - Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, prominent member of protest group Pussy Riot.

"This is an event on a planetary scale." - Valery Yefremov, deputy ataman (leader) of the 44,000 Cossacks of the Kuban region of southern Russia, 500 of whom were patrolling in their shaggy black hats and leather boots at the Games.

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Image: Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, right, and Maria Alyokhina
Photographs: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

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'You've got the elite skiers of the world and then you've got some mad old woman like me trying to make it down'

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"I don't win when the sun's not out. I haven't won in five years when the sun's not out." - U.S. skier Bode Miller explains how his vision, and a need for laser eye surgery, might be behind his downhill flop.

"When I talk to Ted, I never think he's that smart. But he was skiing very smart today." - German skier Felix Neureuther on Ted Ligety, after the American stormed to gold in the men's giant slalom.

"It's so cool. You've got the elite skiers of the world and then you've got some mad old woman like me trying to make it down," violinist Vanessa Mae, who competed under her father's name of Vanakorn for Thailand and came last in the giant slalom.

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Image: Vanessa Vanakorn of Thailand prepares to make a run during the Alpine Skiing Women's Giant Slalom
Photographs: Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

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'She has no spine but she has iron in her bones'

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"Maxim Kovtun is shoved aside and this invalid has brought shame upon us." - fiery opposition lawmaker Vladimir Zhirinovsky, calling Russian figure skater Yevgeny Plushenko "dishonourable" after he withdrew injured before the start of the individual event having been controversially selected.

"She is dynamite. She is completely unfazed. She has no spine but she has iron in her bones. She goes, ding, ding, ding." - U.S. figure skater Gracie Gold, speaking about Russia's 15-year-old sensation Julia Lipnitskaya.

"Good job guys, my congratulations to you all. You have a lot of work ahead of you here, so don't relax." - Putin to the victorious Russian figure skating team after they claimed gold.

"The genius girl (Lipnitskaya), flying above the ice, will lift Putin's rating up with her." - Viktor Shenderovich, on a satirical blog he posted on the Ekho Moskvy radio station's website about how the Russian state is trying to capitalise on sporting success.

The 15-year-old Russian sensation crumbled under the pressure in the individual event and won only team gold.

"Why did you invite all of us if you were going to have Putin's little sports meeting?" - Bae Sung-jae, South Korean commentator for broadcaster SBS, after the country's top skater Kim Yuna was denied back-to-back Olympics gold by Russia's Adelina Sotnikova.

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Image: Julia Lipnitskaya of Russia
Photographs: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

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'IOC has destroyed one of the greatest hockey days in Swedish history'

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"The gold cost $50 billion." - Russian ice hockey player Alex Ovechkin when asked how much a gold medal would mean to him.

"Inside I am absolutely empty," - Russian ice hockey captain Pavel Datsyuk after his team lost to Finland in the quarter-finals, robbing the hosts of a shot of one of the most coveted medals. "The emotion we feel right now is disappointment, disappointment that we didn't live up to the hopes placed on us."

"We cried both of us. I don't cry easily, but we were both very sad. It was meant to be the most important game of Nicklas's life. Then I come... telling him he can't play," Sweden general manager Tommy Boustedt reveals the scene after Nicklas Backstrom was pulled out of the men's ice hockey final against Canada for a doping offence. "The timing is awful, and my suspicion is that this is political. They waited until it would make a real good impact with you journalists. That is one hour before the game; that's perfect. Our opinion is that the IOC has destroyed one of the greatest hockey days in Swedish history," Boustedt explains his frustration."

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Image: Nicklas Backstrom #19 of Sweden skates against Latvia
Photographs: Martin Rose/Getty Images

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'This is as good as gold'

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"This is everything I could have imagined and more... This is as good as gold" - U.S. women's skeleton racer Noelle Pikus-Pace.

She missed the 2006 Olympics after being hit by a bobsleigh, narrowly failed to get a medal in 2010, retired, suffered a miscarriage, returned to the sport - and ended up winning a silver medal in Sochi. 

"I think he's more tired of seeing me win than I'm tired of him beating me in the sprint." - Frenchman Martin Fourcade after missing out on a golden Sochi hat-trick in a photo finish to Norway's Emil Hegle Svendsen in the 15km mass start.

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Image: From left, Silver medalist Noelle Pikus-Pace of the United States, gold medalist Lizzy Yarnold of Great Britain and bronze medalist Elena Nikitina of Russia celebrate on the podium
Photographs: Julian Finney/Getty Images

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'We need to be in great shape if we want to continue being at the top of the sport'

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"I collapsed, I got exhausted, in a lot of pain, I just lifted up my head and see (penultimate Dachhiri Dawa Sherpa) and (winner Dario) Cologna approaching to me and congratulate me, and like wow, this is amazing, this is the Olympic spirit." - Roberto Carcelen, 43, after finishing last in the 15km classic and receiving a hug from the winner Cologna, who had waited a full 27.59 minutes for him to finish. He was more than 10 minutes adrift of the penultimate finisher Sherpa.

"Curling is a sport, we are athletes. We need to be in great shape if we want to continue being at the top of the sport," Canadian skip Brad Jacobs responds to criticism of his team's gym regime after winning Olympic gold.

"We're enjoying the weather here on the beach other than the fact that our suits... are quite hot. It's more or less like wearing a wet suit around." U.S. Nordic Combined athlete Bill Demong on temperatures of plus 18 degrees Celsius during a training session.

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Image: Brad Jacobs (centre) of Canada plays the final stone during the Men's Gold Medal match between Canada and Great Britain
Photographs: Clive Mason/Getty Images

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'Maybe this video will appear on YouTube, but that's not so bad'

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"I totally forgot that I had nothing under my suit." - Russian speed skater Olga Graf, who won bronze in the women's 3,000 metres, after unzipping her suit on the ice before scrambling to hide her modesty. "We have very, very tight suits and I just wanted to be able to breathe and take it off. I realised it after that. Maybe this video will appear on YouTube, but that's not so bad."

"The best thing would have been to have made sure that these suits were what the people said they were so that we can actually know going into the races, instead of finding out on one of the biggest races of our lives." - double Olympic speed skating champion Shani Davis on the dumped Mach 39 suits billed as the fastest ever before the Games.

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Image: Russia's Olga Graf skates during the women's 3,000 metres speed skating race
Photographs: Phil Noble/Reuters

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'Growing up on a ranch made me the person I am today'

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"Russia is the country that's given me the opportunity to win a medal. If I was still riding for the USA, I'd be back home with perhaps some mediocre job doing something mediocre." American-born Vic Wild after winning the first of his two gold medals for his adopted country.

"Growing up on a ranch made me the person I am today. It definitely made me a tough girl. As my parents have been saying this whole journey, 'just cowgirl up' - that's kind of what I've gotta do." American Kaitlyn Farrington after winning gold in the women's halfpipe.

"I love you man, but you're worrying me," Shaun White after halfpipe qualifying to Russian-born Swiss Iouri Podladtchikov, who was later to end the American's eight-year reign as Olympic champion.

"All the love up there, like, I don't see many events in sports where the girls are such good friends and truly support each other and give each other energy to be their best," women's slopestyle champion and self-confessed hippie Jamie Anderson.

"On a global level, the Olympics, it's sick to have snowboarding in there. All of us were having a blast there, you could see us all high-fiving at the bottom. It's not like we're bummed out when other people come down and land a run. You're stoked for the next person to land a run," American Sage Kotsenburg shares the lexicon of snowboarding after winning the inaugural men's slopestyle title for the first gold medal of the Games.

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Image: Gold medalist Kaitlyn Farrington of the United States celebrates
Photographs: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

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'Being a good husband and father is more important than skiing'

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"This was her life's goal. Half of it was getting this here. That's a dream come true right there, and then she was going to go ahead and win it." - Jan Phelan, mother of the late Canadian halfpipe skier Sarah Burke, after watching the event's Olympic debut. Burke, 29, who died following a training accident in 2012, was a driving force in getting the sport included.

"I can go out and ski my heart out, but it doesn't necessarily define who I am. Being a good husband and father is more important." - David Wise, American halfpipe Olympic champion on being a dad.

"The people are at home and are sitting in front of the television and eating candy and drinking and having a good time." Norwegian ski jumper Anders Jacobsen on why the late competition starts are good for TV audiences back home.

"It's huge. It's the first Olympic event in the history of women's ski jumping. That's what the girls have been fighting for since 1998," bronze medallist Coline Mattel of France celebrates her sport's arrival in the Olympics.

"I've had some of the best times of my life with this beard," bewhiskered Canadian bobsledder Justin Kripps, one of many athletes at the Sochi Games sporting facial hair.


Image: Maddie Bowman of the United States celebrates winning the gold medal in the Freestyle Skiing Ladies' Ski Halfpipe Finals with David Wise, gold medal winner in the Men's Ski Halfpipe
Photographs: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

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