The Olympics offer viewers a story line as much as a sports competition, and every good story needs leading men and women to play their parts. So far, it's not clear who will be the face of the Sochi Games, to Americans.
Russia's leader, eager to burnish his legacy and boost the country's global standing, has risked a lot of prestige in staging the most expensive Olympics in history.
Sochi Olympics reignite memories of Soviet successes that brought prestige. Can the 2014 Olympic hosts do well at this year's medal table?
The Sochi Winter Olympics will be about more than skiing, skating, and sledding. Every Olympics can promote peace by putting a spotlight on the host country. Russia has already found the Games can stir change for the better, despite what Putin expects.