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Sochi officials scramble to avert disaster due to salt shortage




A worker throws salt during the women's snowboard halfpipe qualifying at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.
A worker throws salt during the women's snowboard halfpipe qualifying at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.
Felipe Dana/AP

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It wasn't a competition, but Olympic officials in Sochi deserve a gold medal for the effort to narrowly avoid a disappointment on the Alpine slopes.

They had to navigate a tricky obstacle course that involved sweet-talking a Swiss salesman, re-routing a plane from Bulgaria, and having the Russians strong-arm through customs, all for salt. Nineteen tons of it, to be exact. 

The New York Times' Sam Dolnick explains why Sochi officials didn't get the needed salt beforehand, and what strings they pulled to fly it in from thousands of miles away in less than 24 hours.