February 28

Sally Jenkins’s Feb. 8 front-page column, “A heart-seizing place of deep complexities,” on the startling gaps between the Sochi Olympics and Russia’s underserved population, made a number of good points that were echoed in news coverage of the Games.

But now that the dust has settled (or, more aptly, that the snow has melted) with little more than a few hiccups, I respectfully suggest that a bit of honest U.S. self-assessment might temper some of Jenkins’s observations. She noted that a young Muscovite entreated her to “open your heart and your eyes and ears” on the 27-hour train ride from Moscow to Sochi to see “dilapidated cottages, corrugated tin roofs and . . . husks of old trains” as evidence of the “grim and the gorgeous coexist[ing] side by side.” Factual, I’m sure, but when was the last time Jenkins was on Amtrak? Try a 27-minute trip right here, from Washington to Baltimore; you’ll see more than our fair share of ramshackle housing and industrial waste, with a good measure of trash and graffiti to boot. Contrast, big time.

A valid critique, but balanced reporting with open eyes also means looking in the mirror.

Thomas C. Gaspard, Potomac

Gracie Gold reflected the best in U.S. ladies figure skating at the Winter Olympics. She helped the U.S. team secure a bronze medal with her long program. She finished fourth in the individual competition, the top U.S. performer. She reflected the true Olympic spirit.

So I was surprised and dismayed to see a picture of her falling to the ice in a large photo illustrating Sally Jenkins’s Feb. 21 Sports column, “Whether Sotnikova deserved win is difficult to judge,” with a caption “Gracie Gold falls while competing.” Gold deserved better.

Janice L. Biennas,

Williamsburg

I usually enjoy the weekly dose of schadenfreude served up by Chris Cillizza’s Worst Week in Washington [Outlook]. But Cillizza’s Feb. 23 installment, on Alexander Ovechkin, crossed a line.

Yes, the Olympics did not go well for the Russian hockey team, and Ovechkin is certainly implicated in that, but his father’s heart surgery is a family matter of deep personal concern.

Given that context, “Congrats, or something” was just plain wrong. For going from clever to clueless, I would say Cillizza had the worst week in Washington. 

Tom Barrett, Alexandria

In the midst of The Post’s otherwise excellent article about Mikaela Shiffrin’s gold-medal-winning slalom run [“Keeping her cool,” Sports, Feb. 22], I was dismayed to read that she competed with “a cold contracted during the misery of Tuesday’s giant slalom, which was contested in snow and rain.”

This statement promotes a persistent myth that getting cold and wet will give someone a cold, which is not true. A cold is an infection caused by a virus, not by weather. People who want to avoid catching a cold can go skiing in the rain with abandon as long as they practice good hand hygiene and stay away from infected people who are coughing and sneezing.

Abby Marsh, Washington