Olympic Corner: Russia prepare for clash of the ice hockey titans with USA

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Olympic Corner: Russia prepare for clash of the ice hockey titans with USA

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One of the most highly-anticipated events of the Games is the men’s Ice Hockey tournament.

Russia and its NHL stars such as Ovechkin, Datsuk and Malkin, are one of the favourites.

But the host nation will be careful not to be overconfident as was their case at the 1980 Winter Olympics when the USSR suffered a shock defeat against Team USA.

In Lake Placid 34 years ago a group of unfancied American college players beat Russia 4-3 to strike gold. A match dubbed the ‘Miracle on Ice’.

Russia play the Americans in their second preliminary round fixture and NHL star Evgeni Malkin believes the USA will be a stern test but remain beatable.

He said: “In the case of the Americans, it will be a good test for us. And we of course understand how strong the American team is. If we go out united in a good mood, then we have a every chance of winning.”

Current Russian Ice Hockey Federation president Vladislav Tretiak played in that surprise defeat in 1980 and said the current team won’t be underestimating any of their opponents this time.

He said: “The Americans taught us a good lesson in 1980 – you have to respect your competitors before the match and afterwards you can say how they represented. We didn’t have the respect for them, and that’s why we lost. There aren’t any weak competitors in the Olympics.”

Competition begins on Wednesday with Group C when the Czech Republic lock horns with Sweden while Latvia face Switzerland.

USA and Russia enter the rink for the first time on Thursday against Slovakia and Slovenia respectively.

The big Group A showdown between Russia and the USA takes place on Saturday.

Norway strike double gold

Norway celebrated two gold in the cross country on Tuesday to continue their fine showing at the Games in Sochi.

Maiken Caspersen Falla celebrated her maiden Winter Olympic title when she won the cross-country sprint.

Norwegian team mate Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg took silver and Slovenian Vesna Fabjan bronze.

Soon after Norway were celebrating another gold when Ola Vigen Hattestad crossed over first to win the men’s cross country sprint.

Swedish pair Teodor Peterson and Emil Joensson rounded off the podium.

Elsewhere Darya Domracheva handed Belarus their first winter Olympic gold medal when she won the biathlon 10km pursuit.

Domracheva, who won bronze in the individual event at the Vancouver Olympics, quickly made up a 32-second deficit at the start and never looked back, shooting an almost perfect 19 out of 20.

Norway’s Tora Berger made up for Saturday’s disappointing
sprint with silver while Slovenian Teja Gregorin won bronze.

India back in the Olympic fold

The International Olympic committee on Tuesday lifted a ban on India’s National Olympic committee (IOA).

The IOC imposed the suspension on the IOA after it held a 2012 election in which a corruption-tainted official was voted in as secretary general.

The IOA voted in a new set of officials with World Squash Federation chief N. Ramachandran elected president, paving the way for the Olympic reinstatement of the world’s second most populous nation.

The Indian athletes in Sochi – a luger and two skiers – walked out under the Olympic flag during the opening ceremony last week due to the suspension.

But during the closing ceremony they will walk out under their own country’s flag.

IOC spokesman Mark Adams said: ‘‘It’s the first time in Olympic history that the suspension of an NOC (National Olympic Committee) has been lifted during the games and the decision will have an immediate impact. Indian athletes entered the Sochi Games under the Olympic flag as independent athletes during the opening ceremony and have competed as such so far, or one has, in luge.’‘

German actor drives to Sochi

German actor Rolf Becker drove 3 000 km from Berlin to Sochi via Poland and Ukraine in a Trabant, a legendary but rusty old car from former East Germany.

With its renowned poor performance, outdated and inefficient two-stroke engine Becker, having started his journey on January 21st, felt like an Olympic champion himself by making it to Russia’s Black Sea resort for the 22nd edition of the Winter games.

The 65-year-old actor said: “I feel like my luge friend Felix Loch with his gold medal, being able to get here under these conditions and with such a low budget, I like this.”

Over 3 million Trabants were made but this one has probably seen more kilometres than most.

Becker also drove it to the World Cup in South Africa as well as the Olympics in Nagano, Salt Lake City and Athens.