Melanie’s Mix: A Blend of Culture – “Sochi: What’s really happening over there?”

Melanie Mitchell, Senior Writer

Four years after our successful run with a country-high 37 medal-win in Vancouver, Team USA is back in action to win even more medals in this year’s Winter Olympic Games hosted in Sochi, Russia.

The games commenced on Feb. 7, and they certainly did not go off without a hitch. Athletes have entered under a cloud of controversy ranging from concerns about the host location to the new Russian anti-gay laws and that unexpected Olympic ring technical mishap during the Opening Ceremony.

The Winter Olympics have already experienced trials and tribulations, but despite the adversity, Team USA will certainly bring home some medals.

So, what’s all the fuss about? First, the decision to host the Winter Olympics in Sochi, where the climate is fairly mild, was arguably, a bad decision.

It was Russian President Vladamir Putin who made it his mission to secure his country the bid for the 2014 games.

Reports stated that Putin views the Winter Olympics as “his project” that will be his pride and joy for Russia. The problem with this is that the climate does not sustain snow and ice in some of the outdoor slopes closer to sea level, which is causing problems for athletes competing in the outdoor sports.

So to prepare, snow from last year was harvested and saved, and hundreds of thousands of snow-making machines were brought in, along with thousands of laborers, and in doing so, the price tag for the event has far exceeded the projected $12 million to more than $50 million, making this the most expensive in Olympics history.

The Russian anti-gay laws that were passed in 2013 were of concern for some entering the games. According to a report, the law makes “gay propaganda” or any actions that seeming to promote homosexuality illegal and punishable by up to 15 days in jail.

For athletes representing countries such as the United States, where homosexuality is accepted, it sounds like anyone, for any reason, could be at risk for violating this law.

In response, many groups protested the Olympics, and there were even reports of a planned Gay Pride Parade to take place in Sochi.

Terrorism is of huge concern for Winter Olympic goers as neighbors in the North Caucasus have boycotted the games and made threats to cause as much mayhem in Sochi as possible.  The Olympic park is built on an area where Chechen rebel leader Doku Umaravo said their ancestor’s bones are buried.

Two members of the North Caucasus carried out threats in December and bombed a city near Sochi, killing more than 30 people.

Still, there are many other peculiar and worry some things that are happening in Sochi for this round of the Winter Olympics, and the games are only just getting started.

Team USA is winning some medals but unfortunately, the success of the athletes is somewhat overshadowed by the concerns and troubles happening abroad.

As a nation, we can only hope that our athletes compete well, win big and return home safely.