The Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014 swirled with fear, threats of terrorism, human rights crimes and inequality. An instant pop up ‘Alpine’ ski village and a controversial $9 billion highway became a metaphor for my experience there. Hallmarked by intense security, a divisiveness in culture, a pull between philosophies, a desire in Russia for Western ‘conveniences and luxuries’ was simultaneously mitigated by a reactionary push back to Russia’s political roots. Sochi was a grand performance, with Putin as the master and director in chief orchestrating the show.