What was Missing in the Sochi Opening Ceremony (Other than the Fifth Olympic Ring)

These images show a brief portion of the international broadcast of the 2014 Winter Olympics opening ceremony in Sochi, Russia.  They were captured and posted online by Twitter user @BuzzFeedUK.

These images show a brief portion of the international broadcast of the 2014 Winter Olympics opening ceremony in Sochi, Russia. They were captured and posted online by Twitter user @BuzzFeedUK. Their use for commentary purposes qualifies as fair use.

The introduction to the 2014 Winter Olympics opening ceremony in Sochi may have told us something about how much success women have had in Russian history. Is the United States any better?

The opening ceremony at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games began with a recorded video segment in which a Russian girl went through the Cyrillic alphabet and assigned a prominent Russian personality, achievement, or location to each letter. While I admittedly did not understand all of the references, one thing was fairly clear: there was a notable absence of women, unless you count the little girl narrating the piece.

This made me wonder, “Are there no Russian women who could have been included in this list?” Perhaps Russian history has not been very open to female advancement over the years.  The main Russian females who leap to my mind are Catherine the Great (who was actually German), Anna Karenina (who was fictional), and a bunch of athletes. Were I an expert on ballet, I could undoubtedly find some female names there, but the point still stands that most of the prominent Russians throughout history have been men. Women have not been absent, but they seemingly did not merit inclusion by the team organizing the opening ceremony. Continue reading

Olympic Preview: Ladies’ Figure Skating

2013 Worlds podium Flickr { QUEEN YUNA } - Copy

Medals winners in the ladies’ event at the 2013 World Figure Skating Championships: (L-R) Carolina Kostner, Kim Yu-Na, and Mao Asada. Photo by Flickr user { QUEEN YUNA }

Editor’s Note: A newer article covering all five figure skating disciplines – men, ladies, pairs, ice dancing, and the team event – is now available.  Check it out here.

Figure skating is a dying sport, or so the media has led me to believe.  Nobody understands the new scoring system implemented after the judging scandal at the 2002 Olympics.  Arenas in North America are half empty where they used to be packed.  Hardly any events are shown live on television anymore.

I understand where these complaints are coming from.  Americans’ interest in figure skating has dropped substantially since the good old days of Nancy Kerrigan vs. Tonya Harding.  More than any changes to the judging system, I think what has really killed public interest is the lack of big time American stars on the ladies’ side.  Michelle Kwan was a fan favorite for an entire decade, and no one has been able to successfully fill her shoes. Continue reading