As the Sochi Olympics come to a close, Brett Forrest examines whether the event lived up to its billing for Russia now, and beyond.
The $50 billion-plus that Russia spent preparing for these Games were assigned for a single outcome: a hockey gold medal. It would be symbolic of the Olympics' larger success.
For Russians, the Olympics have not been a thrill -- they're from here. It may explain why the country's mood, especially in Sochi, has been generally subdued so far.
You don't have to go far to find locals in Sochi who are quick to tell you how important hockey is to the country. Brett Forrest found one local hangout where nerves were rattled during Team Russia's men's hockey opener.
Since it won the Olympic bid, all Russia wanted was a chance to show that it was a modern, forward-looking country. Over the next two weeks, it will have this chance.
In ESPN The Magazine, Brett Forrest writes that Russian president Vladimir Putin, the defiant strongman of a determined nation, is pulling out all the stops to dominate the West with his Olympic show.