Olympic feats, not security, to star

Like the old Bridge of Spies in Cold War Berlin, this East-West migration goes both ways. Vic Wild, a top snowboarder from Washington state, gained a Russian passport through marriage to a Russian snowboarder, and will compete for that country. Short track speedskater Ahn Hyun-Soo was a triple gold medalist for South Korea in 2006 but is now a Russian citizen competing under the name Viktor Ahn.

Meanwhile, the Jamaican bobsled team is back, and Alpine skiers from Zimbabwe, the Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, India, Pakistan, Lebanon and Brazil are as well.

Whatever country they represent, the athletes will thankfully push our attention away from security, dual toilets and stray dogs to what is most important: the Olympics themselves. Over the next two weeks, they will provide us with enough stories that the collected works of Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky and Pushkin will look thin by comparison.

Lindsey Vonn is not here but Lindsey Van is, competing for the U.S. in the very first women's ski jumping competition at the Olympics. World Cup champions Ted Ligety, Mikaela Shiffrin and five-time Olympian Bode Miller should more than make up for Vonn's absence.

Kikkan Randall could give the U.S. its first cross-country medal in 38 years and inspire Americans to hit the snow trails, while Shaun White and fellow snowboarders will prompt parents to instruct their kids "Don't ever try that!''

Ashley Wagner will try to justify her presence on the Olympic team as she, Gracie Gold and Edmunds try to skate their way onto the podium with Kim Yu-Na and Mao Asada. They and the other American skaters will try to bring home a medal in the new team competition.

Shani Davis and Heather Richardson will do their best to give non-Dutch speedskating fans reason to pop some Heinekens. Elana Meyers, Aja Evans, Steven Holcomb and Noelle Pikus-Pace will show there is far more reason to pay attention to the sliding sports than the media's fixation on Lolo Jones.

With NHL and KHL professionals, there will be no Miracle on Ice in hockey but the competition should be very intense, what with the enormous hopes and pressure on Russia's team.

And who knows, considering how extensive his reach has been in these Olympics, perhaps Vladimir Putin will insist on replacing Evgeni Plushenko and perform a free skate routine. Sans shirt, of course.

As for the security concerns?

"I haven't thought about it once,'' U.S. speedskater Brittany Bowe said. "It's nice not having TV. I haven't read the news or anything. Whether that's a good thing or bad, that's what I've chose to do. I haven't given it a thought. It's one more thing you don't need to worry about. I have enough to worry about on the track and the things I can control. That's something beyond my control and I'm not going to waste my time on it.''

That's the proper approach to the Olympics.

I woke up Friday morning somewhat concerned that someone had rummaged through my suitcase because the night before a lucky travel charm in my bag had been placed on my bed. Had a maid or someone else done that? Or more likely, had I simply forgotten I placed it there myself because I drank too many 30-ruble wines? Pretty soon I was thinking about the oppressive Putin regime I read about in Masha Gessen's disturbing biography, "The Man Without a Face.''

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