By Julian Linden SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) – The winter wonderland Russian officials had promised the sporting world burst into life on Thursday as the first events of the Sochi Olympics got underway on the eve of the opening ceremony. In the Caucasus Mountains high above Sochi, the world’s best snowboarders took off, unveiling all their mesmerizing, daredevil tricks against the backdrop of a brilliant blue sky and golden sun, the first time for 30 years that Winter Olympic action had taken place ahead of the opening ceremony. Down at the Black Sea resort where the ice events are being staged, competitors were getting ready for the first figure skating events, as excitement in Sochi built. If recent history is any guide, the pessimism that has engulfed the Games during the lead-up will quickly melt and the Sochi Olympics may come to be remembered as a stunning success.
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