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Fourth-Place Medal

Yes, that's a huge nesting doll on the Olympics slopestyle snowboarding course (Photos)

Norway's Andreas Haatveit sails over a giant Russian nesting doll. (Getty Images)
The Olympics are an international sporting competition, of course, but they're also an opportunity for the host country to broadcast its culture and identity to the world. While we figure to get a heavy dose of Russian culture during Friday's opening ceremony in Sochi, the first day of events has already brought us a unique taste of how the hosts might integrate their customs with the world of the Winter Olympics.

[ Photos: More of the slopestyle nesting doll ]

The answer, it appears, is with at least one giant, sports-related Matryoshka doll. Participants, spectators, and TV viewers for the first-ever Olympic slopestyle snowboarding event were treated to the sight of a very, very large snowboarder nesting doll at one of the course's jumps. While the doll — which, let's face it, is really more of a statue — isn't so big as to dominate every shot of the event, it's striking enough to create some terrific images of the event's real-people competitors in mid-jump, right next to it.

Check out our slideshow above for plenty of great shots of the slopestyle nesting doll.

[ Related: Sochi's slopestyle course questioned again after snowboarders sustain injuries ]

It's easy to get caught up in the sheer cleverness and cool factor of these images, but the presence of this doll raises important questions for the rest of the Sochi Games. Will each sport have its own special Matryoshka doll, or did slopestyle organizers keep this great idea for themselves? Are there smaller dolls inside this bigger doll? Will those smaller dolls be revealed after each portion of the competition, culminating in a big reveal of the gold medal inside the smallest doll? Is this gigantic doll itself the smallest doll? Will we meet the supreme overlord doll at the closing ceremony in several weeks? Is the supreme overlord doll part of Vladimir Putin's master plan to establish Russia as the world's greatest superpower? Am I the only one crazy enough to see the truth here?!

Until that day of reckoning, though, we can at least enjoy the sights. Global domination has never looked so good.

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Eric Freeman is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at efreeman_ysports@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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