Post by TsarSamuil on Feb 13, 2014 14:49:03 GMT -5
Putin said he doesn't want gambling in Sochi, he said it's a family holiday place. So maybe all this western negativity may have positive effects, such as Sochi will be free of western scum, don't need that kind of crowd. Lets not tarnish Sochi with their trashy presence, so if they think Sochi = Nazi-Berlin, good if that makes them stay away.
There has been some less-than-objective media coverage of the Olympic Games. However, on social media, the negativity that we saw in the run-up to the Olympics does seem to be dying down. RT news editor and social media commentator Ivor Crotty talks about the trends.
Post by TsarSamuil on Feb 13, 2014 17:14:17 GMT -5
Lukashenko: Victories like Domracheva’s promote the country’s image better than any diplomacy.
SOCHI, 12 February (BelTA) – The victories like the one biathlete Darya Domracheva has brought to Belarus promote the country’s positive image better than any diplomacy does, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said as he congratulated Darya Domracheva on winning a gold medal in the 2014 Sochi Olympics 10K Women’s Pursuit on 11 February, BelTA has learnt.
The Belarusian leader was one of the first to congratulate Darya Domracheva on the victory. Among those who gathered to congratulate the Olympic gold medalist were Belarusian fans and members of the Belarusian national team. President’s son Nikolai presented a bouquet of flowers to the Belarusian biathlete.
Alexander Lukashenko shared his impressions of the performance of Darya Domracheva and her closest rivals. According to the head of state, such achievements in sport are sometimes better than any diplomacy in promoting the country’s image worldwide.
Darya Domracheva for her part took note of the efforts of the whole team in the achievement of such a high result. In her words, “the stars have aligned on the day”.
“These are your Olympics,” the President said addressing Darya Domracheva. Alexander Lukashenko also expressed confidence that other Belarusian athletes, including the national biathlon team, are capable of winning Olympic medals.
The Sochi games are now into their sixth day and RT is there bringing you all the triumph, defeats and drama of the 22nd Winter Olympics. And it's been a day of extreme ups and downs for Russia from joy at the victory of the Red Machine - to a sad ending of one of the most-outstanding figure skating careers in modern times.
RT's Anastasia Churkina reports on the trend of dwindling ratings for the mainstream media news networks in the US, what this means for the corporate channels, why this is happening and what's to come.
It's not only Olympic coverage on American news networks that has critics reeling- networks are using tricks to up their ratings, audience trust is based on extremes and the news is just catering to viewers already-held beliefs. But ratings don't affect American diplomacy. The Nation's contributing editor, Stephen Cohen, tells RT how the mainstream media's coverage of the Sochi Olympics could negatively affect US-Russian relations.
How does Western media cover the Olympic Games in Sochi? How do these Games differ from previous ones? Why is there such a high level of politicization of the Games? And what is the actual state of affairs in Sochi? CrossTalking with Martyn Andrews, Lee Camp and John Goodbody.
Sochi 2014: Invisible security is the best security, says Putin’s chief of staff.
RT.com February 16, 2014 04:06
Making the Sochi Olympics safe for visitors but not intrusive was a major achievement for Russian security officials, Sergey Ivanov, President Putin’s chief of staff and a veteran security professional, told RT.
Ivanov spoke with RT’s Anissa Naouai in Sochi about the hurdles the historic construction project had to overcome, the legacy that the Olympics will leave behind and the campaign of criticism launched at the Games by some western media.
RT: The Sochi Winter Games are well under way, and some say they might be the most criticized Games ever. Also, the most expensive in history. But joining me now to speak about how it’s all going is Sergey Ivanov. He is the chief of staff of Vladimir Putin’s administration. Thank you so much for finding time to join us.
Sergey Ivanov: Good evening.
RT: I first want to start with the anticipation: seven years, trying to get all of the building done. Was there a moment where you or the administration thought, “Uh-oh, we might not make it”?
SI: Not really. I visited Sochi several times during those seven years. Mainly I was at this sea cluster. Everything is done, and I think it’s one of the most compact and easy-to-attend clusters for half of the sports being presented in the Olympics.
I haven’t been for quite a long time at the mountain cluster in Krasnaya Polyana. Last time I was skiing there myself. But it was like an ordinary Russian village. Now, I couldn’t recognize it when I came yesterday night. I had a feeling that I am in Switzerland, or in Austria, or somewhere in Central Europe, the Alpine republics. It was really good. And it is good. And I spoke to many international dignitaries, sportsmen, experts, and they all told me yesterday and today that the mountain cluster is just fine and it’s one of the best they’ve ever seen. So, it’s fine.
Of course, there are some minor flaws. But you can find minor flaws everywhere and every time. If, for example, you discuss the doorknob, or the door handle, which doesn’t operate properly, that’s one thing. If you discuss about the quality of roads, about security, about comfort of spectators, it’s another story. And I think the latter, which I mentioned, is fine.
RT: We’ve been speaking to a lot of athletes and some spectators here at RT, and many of the foreign spectators are surprised that things are so nice, are surprised that it is so safe. They’re shocked that Sochi is what it is. And there was a huge campaign, some might call it, leading up to these Olympics. How do you react to it?
SI: Personally, I reacted quite calmly.
RT: Did you expect it?
SI: Yes, I did. Because I think it’s part of propaganda. That’s it. You have to live with it. You have to stay calm, you have to stay cool, and you have to go on this long and winding road regardless of what some critics say. Then you will succeed. And I think we did.
RT: Like I said, many people are very pleased with the security. Do you think that Russia was able to find a balance between security and not having the security perimeter invade having a good time at these Olympics?
SI: OK, the Olympics are not yet over. But I think I’m rather an expert in security because 30 years of my life were devoted to security problems. The best security, I will tell you, is the security which you don’t see. It’s always the best. And I think [at] the Sochi Olympics [this] is just the case. The security is heavy, I have to confess. I have to agree with that. But you don’t see it. That means it’s a professional security.
RT: How did you manage to have security checks be so quick? I mean, I’ve never waited more than 30 seconds.
SI: The staff was trained. Even in languages. Maybe not fluent, but they speak reasonably good English. And besides, of course, they try themselves to be polite and efficient because they mentally understand that the impression about the Olympics partly depends on them.
RT: And they smile a lot more.
SI: Yeah, why not?
RT: Team Russia showed not great results in [the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics]. They left quite unhappy. And the Russian team themselves were saying how unsatisfied they were with those results. How do you think being at home in Sochi will play during these Olympics? We just saw in the hockey game between the US and Russia how intense it can get. What will being the home team mean for Russia?
SI: Well, first of all, it’s too early to say because it’s only half the Olympics. We have still next week. Secondly, I remember a good Russian proverb, which, if you paraphrase it, means: You start slowly but you’re very quick in reaching the finish line – which is a Russian tradition. I mean, mentally it’s a Russian tradition.
And so far it was not very good from the point of gold medals, but today, this Saturday, we already have one in men’s short track and right now the skeleton has started and there’s a Russian man, Aleksandr Tretyakov, he is in the leading position, half a second ahead of the runner-up, which is a huge distance in skeleton. So there’s a fair chance that we’ll have two golds today and probably several next week. Let’s hope. Including ice hockey.
[After Sergey Ivanov’s interview with RT, Alexander Tretyakov duly won the gold medal in the skeleton event.]
RT: Including ice hockey.
SI: Of course, of course.
RT: If today was intense, the next week is going to be…
SI: It was a good game. I liked it. I’m still emotional because I came to you straight after the game. Well, it was an equal game. It was a tough game, it was tied. And those penalty shots, it’s like lottery. You can never guess. And besides, the game didn’t mean much from the final standings point of view.
RT: So Russia still has a very good chance?
RT: I’d like to look back to the 1980 Olympics if I can, because it was a very different time. It was 34 years ago, but from the West we’ve seen a lot of the same stereotypes 34 years on. Do you think, and are you hoping that Sochi could be the moment where some of those stereotypes are broken? For the people, for the ordinary people.
SI: OK. I remember the 1980 Moscow Olympics. I was working in security at the time.
SI: Yes, I did. It was the Iron Curtain. It was a totally different country, if you compare with 2014. Totally different. And there might be a break of stereotypes, but mostly for the people who came here, who saw it with their own eyes, who were not sitting in their publishing offices and, I’m sorry, writing bullsh*t. So it depends.
RT: We’ll have to see, but the future certainly for Sochi is open, because I was here in 2009, I didn’t even recognize the city, like you said, Rosa Khutor is unrecognizable. What does that mean for the city of Sochi and what are you hoping will come out of this entirely new infrastructure that you have here?
SI: It’s a good question. With the mountain cluster, it’s more or less clear. It will be a high-level winter resort with people coming both for alpine skiing or sunbathing, which I saw with my own eyes today. And some people can be coming in summer for mountain walking or for fresh air, whatever. So I’m relatively calm with the future of the mountain cluster.
With this sea cluster, the low cluster, it’s more difficult. There’s Formula One starting this fall. Of course, the ice hockey arena will be used for different sorts of events, like, for example, figure skating revues, some commercial events, concerts, whatever. It’s like using the arena. I know many arenas in the United States, like Staples Arena. Everyday it’s either NHL or NBA or some concert, music concert, whatever. That’s clear and that’s easy. But some of the sports [facilities], we’re still thinking about that. The president gave orders for experts to think and to offer several options of how to use [them] efficiently in the future.
RT: I know you’re clearly a hockey fan. But if you had a couple more events that you will not miss for anything at these Olympics, what would they be?
SI: Well, first of all, I have to confess, I’m a basketball fan. That’s sport number one for me.
RT: That’s your number one.
SI: It’s incomparable with all other sports. But if we talk about the winter Olympics and winter sports, there are several: you are right, ice hockey, alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, biathlon. And I never watched slopestyle before. I watched it on television in Moscow, and I really liked it. It’s a good sport for youngsters, it’s very spectacular, it’s good.
RT: And just finally I’d like to ask you a question completely unrelated to the Olympics.
SI: OK, shoot.
RT: If I could be a little more political, Ukraine. The protest is dying down, the political pressure on authorities is still unprecedented. It’s become very clear of late, especially with leaked phone calls and other information, that the US and the EU not only are highly interested in Ukraine, but they’re quite active in what’s happening in Ukraine. How is Russia going to deal with this?
SI: As we’ve dealt with that from the very start. We hear a lot of noise accusing Russia of interfering into Ukrainian internal affairs. But I never heard a single fact proving this point. That’s my point number one.
Point number two: Of course, we heard and saw and came to know tens or even hundreds of cases where we think was a clear interference into Ukrainian internal affairs by West European leaders and by American leaders, which in my view is totally inappropriate, to put it mildly. Because both sides publicly say that it’s an internal Ukrainian affair, that there is a legitimate Ukrainian government and a legitimate Ukrainian president. Nobody disputes his authority, Yanukovich’s authority. And still there’s huge pressure obviously.
Well, we call it double standards, you might call it triple standards. But here are the facts. And I make my judgment only based on real facts, not propaganda. And maybe I will disappoint you, but I would never use the language which was used by some American state officials.
RT: Well, thank you so much for joining us here.
SI: You’re welcome.
RT: Sergey Ivanov, chief of staff of Vladimir Putin’s administration, joining us here on RT at Sochi 2014.
Post by TsarSamuil on Feb 18, 2014 16:55:11 GMT -5
Two former Pussy Riot members briefly detained in Sochi, questioned over hotel theft.
RT.com February 18, 2014 11:24
Two ex-members of the Pussy Riot group, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, were held by security forces on Tuesday after a hotel they were staying in filed a theft complaint to police, officials said.
“They are being questioned concerning a theft that at a hotel they are staying at. Along with Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Mariya Alyokhina, all the hotel’s guests are being questioned,” local police said, as quoted by Interfax news agency.
Some three hours after the detainment, the two women were seen leaving the police station in Sochi's district of Adler.
"The questioning in regard to the theft has been completed, we have no claims against those questioned," police told RIA Novosti news agency.
The activist, who first posted the news on Twitter, Semyon Simonov, says at least five other activists were also detained. The arrest took place in central Sochi, some 30 km north of the main Olympic venues.
“I have no idea what’s this theft about,” Alyokhina commented on the charges to the BBC Russian on the cellphone.
A person who answered the phone at the Malakhit Hotel where the women were staying confirmed to Interfax a case of theft saying a purse had gone missing. However, there was no indication of who was responsible and the person referred all further questions to the police.
Tolokonnikova has written in her Twitter account that she was beaten by the investigators during the questioning and she was planning to file a complaint. However, according to the Sochi police she has not officially complained about the questioning process, RIA Novosti reported.
A law enforcement source told Ridius that nobody was planning to detain the former Pussy Riot members and that they just wanted to question the two. Nevertheless, a ‘support group’ soon gathered around them and disrupted the police investigations, the source said, explaining why both of them were taken to a police station. According to the source, the conflict was triggered exclusively by Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina and their "supporters."
Police officers who were working in the hotel did not know that the two were members of the protester group, “but when they realized this, it was too late,” the source said, adding that the police had a real a “headache.”
Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova spent almost two years in prison but were released on amnesty in December. They had been imprisoned over a protest in Moscow's prominent Christ the Savior cathedral.
The ex-Pussy Riot members came to Sochi to stage protest actions on behalf of the punk group, despite reports of having been expelled from it. One of the protest songs to be performed at the Olympics is called, “Putin will teach you to love your motherland,” Tolokonnikova said on Twitter.
The women have been in Sochi for over two days. On February 16, they were detained for 7 hours, while on February 17, they spent 10 hours with the Federal Security Service, Tolokonnikova tweeted.
During the latest – and third – detention, police used force, the ex-Pussy Riot members alleged.
Post by TsarSamuil on Feb 18, 2014 21:11:50 GMT -5
LOL! Maybe the author should visit the Caucasus and talk with locals about fags n such!
Discrimination Olympics: Meddling with Muslims in Sochi.
By Khaled A Beydoun | Al Jazeera – Mon, Feb 17, 2014
Sochi's more than 20,000 Muslims helped build the infrastructure and stages for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia, where Muslim athletes from a range of participating nations will compete within these multi-million-dollar stadia, slopes, and structures, vying for gold and the glory that comes with Olympic victory.
However, for Muslims in Sochi, the rampant Islamophobia has cast a shadow of concern and danger during these Olympic Games. Coverage of the Sochi games mentions Islam and Muslims exclusively in the form of terrorist threat , head-scarved " black widows ", and, the familiar conflation of religious observance with national security concerns.
While the Opening Ceremony showcased the well-crafted face of a " New Russia ", age-old Russian hate toward the LGBTQ community, and indeed, both indigenous and visiting Muslims, are also prominently displayed in Sochi.
During its buildup, NBC's Bob Costas stated that the Sochi Games will, "take place against a backdrop of questions about policy differences, security, cost overruns and human rights issues, including Russia's anti-gay propaganda law".
The firestorm against Sochi's brazen homophobia leading up and during the Olympics was fierce, capped by President Barack Obama sending a US delegation led by openly gay athletes . The message, from news desks and the Oval Office, was clear - the US opposed the structural homophobia built into the Sochi Olympics.
No similar statements were made of the pervasive Islamophobia encircling the Games. Rather, the media and political rhetoric in the US toward Muslims and Islam are aligned with those of Russia, and linked inextricably to terrorism. American misalignment with Russia's per se homophobia, and its converging interests with Moscow's framing of Muslim threat, highlights the ever more relevant observation of Derrick Bell, who held that: "Domestic civil rights policies are only promoted when they advance majoritarian (white) interests abroad."
The policing of Muslims stateside, and its nexus to the "global war on terrorism", has - in large part - erased word of Sochi's brazen Islamophobia from news headlines, and, hushed the US government from calling into question the religious freedoms of Muslims in Russia.
20,000 Muslims, zero mosques
Like its rigid stance against homosexuality, Islamophobia is built deeply within the brick and mortar of Russian law. New - like Old - Russia, violently persecutes its religious minorities. The Olympic City sits on the edges of the Caucasus Mountains - the site of the 19th century decimation and displacement of Circassian Muslims. In an effort to pacify resistance, the Czar followed by Soviet strategy focused on shuttering mosques, and eliminating religious centres and meeting spaces as a strategy to ethnically cleanse the indigenous Muslims. This Russian tactic of blanket suppression has outlived czars, the Soviet Union, and still lords over the Muslim population surrounding and within the Caucasus region.
In the Mother Jones article " Why Sochi has no mosques ", Tim Murphy writes that Sochi does not have a single mosque within its bounds for its 20,000 Muslim residents. The vast majority of these Muslims "migrated to the city over the last decade to take jobs building the Olympic facilities". The nearest mosque is in the village of Tkhagapsh, roughly 50 miles from Sochi. Likely in an effort to preempt disruptive protests, Anatoli Rykov, the interim mayor of Sochi, told reporters that talks to build Sochi's first mosque would begin after the Olympics.
Prayers rooms have been availed to Muslim Olympians. The accommodation of Muslim athletes, however, is hardly a symbol of tolerance. But rather, a blatant effort to quell dissidence within the Olympic Village, while simultaneously, denying the rights of Sochi's Muslim residents to practice their faith.
Sochi's mosque-less limits is emblematic of a deeper animus toward Muslims . Conspicuous markers of Muslim identity, including beards or headscarves, legal status and Chechen or Circassian nationality, will instantly mobilise the 50,000 police forces patrolling the city.
In short, Sochi is no place for Muslims, and the Steering Committee's welcome for the Games' Muslim athletes will surely expire as soon as Olympic flame is put out.
Sochi: A modern Potemkin Village?
The Sochi Games have been called a " moment of personal glory " for Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. A $51 bn grand circus for the Russian strongman, showcasing his financial mettle and might for the entire world to see. However, Putin's arrogance is only one dimension of how these Games will be remembered after its end on February 23.
Without question, Putin backs the modern Islamophobic policies in Russia today. However, the phobia that mixes with religious animus with empire, xenophobia and a racially narrow conception of authentic Russian identity, precedes the modern czar by centuries. Beyond the billion-dollar Olympic Structures that symbolise "New Russia" are deeply entrenched phobias and systems of hate that no sublime opening ceremony or state-of-the-art stadium can hide.
When the crowds are gone and the world's cameras are far away, Sochi will be remembered as a modern "Potemkin Village", built atop the hollowed pillars of hate that survived the fall of walls and the crumbling of iron curtains. After the final medal is awarded in Sochi, these will stand as the lasting symbols of the Winter Olympics 2014.
Khaled A Beydoun is the Critical Race Studies Teaching Fellow at the UCLA School of Law.
MOSCOW, February 19 (RIA Novosti) – Cossacks serving as volunteer security officials for the Sochi Olympics whipped and punched members of Pussy Riot as the punk protest group attempted to mount an open-air performance on Wednesday.
Band member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova wrote on Twitter that they were assaulted as they began to perform a song derisively mocking President Vladimir Putin.
“Pussy Riot was attacked by Cossacks while singing the song ‘Putin Will Teach You to Love the Motherland’ near a Sochi 2014 banner. [They] whipped [us] and sprayed pepper gas,” Tolokonnikova wrote.
Another member of the group, Maria Alyokhina, posted several photos of what she said were injures sustained during the attack.
“Police did not react,” Alyokhina said.
The Cossacks, who originally hailed from the southern border areas of Russia and are known for their social conservatism, were used to ruthlessly quell popular rebellion in Tsarist times and were repressed under the Soviets.
They have currently regained a semi-official role in Russia and sometimes carry out self-appointed vigilante police duties that are now becoming officially authorized in some parts of the country, including Moscow.
In a move reminiscent of Tsarist Russia, over 400 Cossacks arrived in Sochi in early January to help police maintain order during the Games, which run through February 23.
Alyohkina and Tolokonnikova were released from prison under amnesty in December. They had been serving two-year sentences after being convicted of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred for taking part in an anti-Kremlin protest staged by Pussy Riot in Moscow’s main cathedral in 2012.
The two women were detained by police in Sochi on Tuesday along with several other people over a reported theft at a local hotel, before being released with no charges.
Last Edit: Feb 19, 2014 16:28:58 GMT -5 by TsarSamuil
How Jimmy Kimmel pranked US media with '#SochiFail: Wolf in my hall' video.
RT.com February 21, 2014 15:35
A video of a wolf wandering through a hallway of a Sochi Olympic dorm posted by American luger, Kate Hansen, caused media frenzy in the US. Little did they know that the clip was filmed and placed on Hansen’s page by a US prank show.
In Olympic Sochi, wild animals stalk you in your dormitory and packs of stray dogs roam the streets at night. That is what one probably can believe after watching too many US media reports coming from Russia’s Black Sea resort where the 2014 Winter Games are taking place.
But with all the internet freedom today, a reader can always turn to first-hand Sochi reports posted by the athletes on their social media channels.
This is what about 1.9 million viewers did after US Olympic luger Hansen posted a 17-second clip titled “Epic #SochiFail: Wolf in my hall” on Wednesday. The viral video showed a timber wolf curiously exploring a hallway of what appeared to be a dorm in one of the Olympic villages in Sochi.
Gasping “Oh my god!” the woman nearly closes the door of her room, but continues filming until the canine disappears round the corner.
Within hours, Hansen’s video was being broadcasted on nearly all major US media websites and channels. CNN, FOX and NBC presenters described chilly details of “the wolf of Sochi” encounter, saying that “there is no word of how it got inside an Olympic village.”
Various “experts” could then be seen debating over the canine’s breed, some claiming it might have been a husky-type dog or a wolf mix, the others adamantly stating it was indeed a wolf.
The debate was over only after the host of an ABC channel late night show, comedian Jimmy Kimmel, came up with the whole version of the video. The wolf on the video turned out to be real – but not the Sochi dorm.
The clip was in fact filmed in a studio setting in California at the backstage of the Jimmy Kimmel Live! show. According to Kimmel, it took some 15 hours to construct an exact replica of the Olympic village dorm hallway based on a photo sent by Hansen.
A tame wolf called Rugby was hired for the job.
Hansen, who conspired to post the video for Kimmel’s show, said the prank was “worth it in the end” despite “a little bit more backlash” than she expected. The Olympic village security certainly did not find the wolf clip entertaining.
Security started freaking out, because technically it was a breach. You know, athlete safety. It kind of went a little crazy here,” Hansen told Kimmel via Skype from the real Sochi dorm.
The embarrassed US channels immediately came up with new stories on “Olympic-sized fake.”
“As soon as she [Hansen] posted it, the media went nuts – which is what I was hoping for,” Kimmel confessed in his show, presenting the athlete with a “gold medal for pranking” and asking if she would consider bringing a live bear to the closing ceremony of the Sochi Olympics.
“The girl who tweeted wolf” may indeed get away with another such prank, as according to a whole host of world media, Russia is still a wild country with bears in the streets, where anything could happen. What makes it even more funny is that some of the audience is still prone to believe it.
Sochi medal wrap-up, Day 15: Olympic host Russia tops medals table.
RT.com February 23, 2014 03:30
Following impressive wins in the biathlon relay and snowboard slalom, host nation Russia has climbed to the top of the medals table with one day of competition remaining at the Sochi Games.
Russia has 11 gold, 10 silver, and eight bronze medals after 15 days of action in Sochi.
Norway – which has been relegated to second place – also has 11 golds, but is trailing behind the Russians in the total number of medals won.
Canada and the US remain in the fight for the Top 3 in the overall medals count, with nine gold medals each.
Norway’s cross-country skiers swept the podium in the women’s 30km mass start free race. Marit Bjoergen clocked in at 1:11:05.2 at the Laura Center, bagging the gold medal.
Snowboarder Julia Dujmovits claimed the gold medal in the women’s parallel slalom event. The Austrian beat Anke Karstens of Germany by 0.12 seconds after two runs in the big final.
Russian snowboarder Vic Wild managed to beat all his rivals in the men’s parallel slalom event, bagging the gold medal. It’s the second gold in Sochi for the 27-year-old American-born athlete, who took up Russian citizenship in 2011.
Speed skaters from the Netherlands raced to gold in the men's team pursuit event at the Sochi Games.
Jan Blokhuijsen, Sven Kramer, and Koen Verweij clocked an Olympic record time of 3:37.71 minutes in Final A.
The Netherlands also set an Olympic record in the women's team pursuit event. Marrit Leenstra, Jorien Ter Mors, and Ireen Wust clocked in at 2:58.05 minutes at Adler Arena, bagging the gold medal.
Russian biathletes were the fastest in the men’s 4x7.5 km relay at the Sochi Olympics. Aleksey Volkov, Evgeny Ustyugov, Dmitry Malyshko, and Anton Shipulin shot well to avoid penalty laps and clocked in at 1:12:15.9 at the Laura Center, leaving their nearest rival 3.5 seconds behind.
Alpine skier Mario Matt bagged an Olympic gold medal in the men’s slalom event. The Austrian, who was ahead after the first run at Rosa Khutor Alpine Center, proved his class in the second try, finishing with a time of 1:41.84 minutes.
Finland claimed the men’s hockey bronze medal at the Sochi Olympics after destroying the US 5-0 in the third place match.
Gold medalists Russia's Anton Shipulin, Dmitry Malyshko, Evgeny Ustyugov and Russia's Alexey Volkov celebrate at the podium in the Men's Biathlon 4x7.5 km Relay Medal Ceremony at the Laura Cross-Country and Biathlon Center during the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 22, 2014, in Rosa Khutor, in Sochi. (AFP Photo / Alberto Pizzoli)
Last Edit: Jan 22, 2017 8:06:30 GMT -5 by TsarSamuil
Mayor of Sochi Anatoliy Pakhomov (L) and International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach (C) applaud after handing over the Olympic flag to the Mayor of PyeongChang Lee Seok-rae during the Closing Ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympics at the Fisht Olympic Stadium on February 23, 2014. (AFP Photo / Peter Parks)
Actors and dancers perform during the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympics at the Fisht Olympic Stadium on February 7, 2014 in Sochi. (AFP Photo / Jonathan Nackstrand)
Last Edit: Feb 24, 2014 14:42:49 GMT -5 by TsarSamuil
Post by TsarSamuil on Feb 23, 2014 22:12:23 GMT -5
High on Action, Low on Scandal: An Olympics Worthy of the Name.
SOCHI, February 24 (R-Sport, David Nowak) – As the 22nd Winter Olympic Games came to a close on Sunday, one shocking realization set in. Sochi had just served up a textbook Games.
The doomsday scenarios bandied about by some before the Games – terrorist attacks, disruption from protests, bad weather forcing schedule changes – all failed to materialize during the competition.
Instead, attention turned to the captivating battles on snow and ice over 15 mostly sun-drenched days on the Black Sea coast.
That, perhaps, is Russia’s biggest victory. Superseding even the host nation’s achievement of topping the medal table for the first time since 1994 with a record 33 medals.
“What for me is most important is what the athletes are thinking about these Games ... and I have to tell you there was not a single complaint by any of the athletes,” said IOC chief Thomas Bach, presiding over his first Games since his election in September.
“I think all the systems here were working extremely well, from transportation to security over the Olympic villages, the food and everything, really excellent.” Some will say that for $51 billion – what Russia spent on hosting its first Winter Games, with all infrastructure thrown in – anything less than excellent begins to feel unacceptable.
Nevertheless, in the arenas and on the slopes, records tumbled amid glorious victories and crushing defeats, creating living legends and destroying careers almost on a whim. There were terrible injuries, doping scandals and debatable calls – all pretty much par for the course in a modern Olympic Games.
Foreign Victors; Russian glory
The host nation’s athletic accomplishments must have exceeded even President Vladimir Putin’s expectations.
Following the unprecedented disappointment of coming 11th with just three gold medals four years ago in Vancouver, Russia achieved its best ever result in Sochi, winning 13 gold medals and 33 total.
The last victory was earned by the country's opening ceremony flag-bearer Alexander Zubkov, who won his second gold of the Games in the four-man bobsled competition.
“The team has exceeded the plan. The rest isn't important. I congratulate everybody,” Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said.
Ahead of the Games, Mutko said he would accept any result for Russia, while last June his ministry set a target of finishing in the top three in the medal table.
Russian Olympic Committee president Alexander Zhukov said in 2012 that “we have a task to come first,” but softened his line later on, declining to set a formal medal target for the host team.
Nearly half the Russian golds were won by two imports named Victor, making them winners in name as well as in deed.
US-born snowboarder Vic Wild won both the regular and giant parallel slalom for two golds, while ex-South Korean athlete became short-track speedskating’s greatest ever male competitor with three golds in Sochi.
The reliance on imported talent forced Mutko to issue denials that Russia wanted to conquer the sports world by handing out passports.
“There’s no target to achieve hegemony in sport by means of naturalization,” Mutko said. “There will be no total naturalization. We will compete using our own potential.”
A nice side-story to the Wild victory was that his wife, Alena Zavarzina – the person who persuaded him to represent Russia – won a bronze in the women’s parallel giant slalom.
Russia’s best sport was figure skating, in which the country garnered three gold medals from the inaugural team event, from Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov in the pairs and from Adelina Sotnikova in the women’s singles.
Sotnikova had to defend her skate in the free program, which some observers claimed got generous marks to aid her defeat of reigning champion Kim Yuna of South Korea.
The fallout from that took the heat off Evgeny Plushenko, who took Russia’s only slot in the men’s competition only to withdraw at the last minute with a back injury.
It also distracted Russian fans from the failure of 15-year-old Julia Lipnitskaia in the individual event after winning both her programs in the team skate. A gold medal contender for many, Lipnitskaia finished fifth.
Speedskating – who finished fourth?
That was the only relevant question at many of the long-track speedskating events at Adler Arena, where Dutch racers claimed a world record four podium sweeps and eight gold medals – an astonishing 23 of any color.
The team of Ireen Wust, Jorien Ter Mors and Marrit Leenstra had two Sochi gold medals and three silvers between them even before winning Saturday’s team pursuit, a victory makes Wust the country's most successful Winter Olympian in history with eight medals.
Other gold medalists included Sven Kramer, who clinched back-to-back titles in the men’s 5,000m and led the first Dutch sweep of the Games, Michel Mulder in the men’s 500m and Stefan Groothuis in the men’s 1,000m.
Biathlon, Bjoerndalen and Belarus
Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, 40, cemented his reputation as the king of biathlon, becoming the most decorated Winter Olympian of all time on Wednesday after helping his country to gold in the mixed relay for his record 13th Olympic medal.
Bjorndalen became the oldest male individual gold medalist in Olympic history when he won the 10km sprint earlier in the Games. Since then, he had twice come painfully close to adding to that tally in Sochi. First he missed the podium in the pursuit by less than a second and then missing four shots at the last shooting stage when on course to fight for gold in Tuesday's mass start.
Wednesday's medal took him up to a world record 13 in a glittering career that began at Lillehammer in 1994, taking him past his countryman and cross-country skiing great Bjoern Daehlie, with whom he had tied it at 12.
It is Bjorndalen's eighth career Olympic gold medal, taking him level with Daehlie on that count.
He missed out on the record in spectacular fashion on Saturday, when Russia surged to the men’s relay gold after Bjoerndalen’s teammate, Emil Hagle Svendsen, missed twice at the final shooting while out in front. Some commentators have since said he put his own ninth career gold in jeopardy, inheriting a lead of more than 20 seconds on the third leg that shrunk to just 5 seconds when he passed over to Svendsen. He has since ruled out appearing at the next Games in Pyeongchang.
Meanwhile, Darya Domracheva became Belarus' most successful Olympian of all time on Monday with victory in the biathlon 12.5km mass start, her record third gold medal of the Sochi Winter Games.
Domracheva, who won the pursuit and individual races, relied on her searing pace to win – a missed shot on the last shooting stage blotting an otherwise flawless performance from the 27-year-old. She replaces double gold-winning rower Ekaterina Karsten as the most-decorated Belarusian Olympian of all time and also becomes the first woman to win three biathlon golds at the same Games.
"It's amazing to be here because I dreamed about it, to be an Olympic champion, from my childhood," Domracheva said. "But to get three. Dreams do come true."
Two athletes were suspended from the Sochi Olympics on the final day of the Games after testing positive for banned substances, taking the number of suspected doping cases at the Games to five.
Austrian cross-country skier Johannes Duerr’s expulsion was confirmed hours before he was due to compete in the men’s 50km, while the case of Latvian hockey player Vitalijs Pavlovs was announced during the night.
Duerr was stopped from competing after testing positive for blood-booster EPO, a drug that has often been used by endurance sport athletes, the international ski federation said.
If his expulsion is officially confirmed, he will lose his eighth-place finish in the men’s skiathlon. It is the third doping case in cross-country skiing at the Sochi Olympics.
Pavlovs was part of the Latvian hockey team that surprised observers by reaching the quarterfinals.
He has been expelled from the Games, but his positive test for the stimulant methylhexaneamine does not yet affect the results of his team, pending an International Ice Hockey Federation investigation. The 24-year-old plays club hockey for KHL team Dinamo Riga.
There has been a late flurry of doping cases at the Games, with a total of five athletes announced to have tested positive since Friday.
The others are German cross-country skier Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle, Italian bobsledder William Frullani and Ukrainian cross-country skier Marina Lisogor, all of whom have been sent home.
The final hockey gold medal match between Canada and Sweden was followed by reports that Nicklas Backstrom had failed a doping test and was stopped from playing at the last minute after his participation had already been announced.
Stray packs and whining hacks
For many of the 3,000-plus journalists arriving for the Games, Sochi was a failure as soon as they moved into their accommodation.
Some R-Sport staff arriving at their designated accommodation inside the Olympic Park on February 5 found their rooms all but finished, with any outstanding issues mainly cosmetic.
Other media reported brown water running from hotel room taps and builders still inside the complexes working on unfinished rooms.
Some reporters, hundreds of whom had made the long-haul flight from North America, turned up to find none of their rooms ready and waiting hours to be housed.
Their hotel compounds, meanwhile, were regularly graced by roaming stray dogs, initially a source of revelry that turned serious when it transpired authorities were reportedly trying to have them all destroyed.
There were reports of companies being hired to continue killing the dogs throughout the games, and of philanthropists offering to set up shelters to save them; while some athletes expressed the desire to adopt them.
Of all the injuries suffered at the Sochi Games, the worst befell Russian skicross racer Maria Komissarova, who broke her back in a training crash last Saturday.
The 23-year-old is recuperating in a Munich hospital from multiple operations after being airlifted there following emergency surgery near the slope at a Krasnaya Polyana clinic.
Komissarova sustained a fractured vertebra with dislocation after a crash at the PSX Olympic skicross venue at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park. The Russian Freestyle Federation said in a website statement on Friday adding that German doctors “have ascertained a certain positive dynamic in Maria Komissarova’s condition.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Komissarova in hospital near Sochi on Saturday.
Earlier in the Games, a bobsled struck a track worker at the Olympic course, leaving him needing surgery on two broken legs. The unidentified worker was on track during a training session at the time of the collision, which involved a forerunner sled used to test the track outside competition times.
There was also tragic news related to next month’s Paralympics: Australian para-snowboarder Matthew Robinson died as a result of injuries sustained in a crash, the Australian Paralympic Committee said Friday.
Last week Robinson, 29, suffered neck and back injuries in a race accident at the IPC World Cup Finals in La Molina, Spain, and underwent surgery in Barcelona. After spending eight days in hospital, he was being flown to Melbourne when he suffered a cardiac arrest and died.
Russian hockey fail
The one blotch on the Games – and it’s a big one – was the unmitigated flop of the national men’s hockey team, which was packed with the cream of NHL talent and tasked with a first gold since Soviet times.
In a tournament won by Canada, Russia crashed out in the quarterfinals Wednesday with a 3-1 defeat to Finland.
"It's all bad," Russian forward Alex Ovechkin said. "We started well, scored a goal, but several mistakes cost us the game. We tried to score but just couldn't do it."
The men's hockey tournament is the highest-profile Winter Olympic event in Russia and expectations were high for the host nation – Putin, himself a noted hockey fan, called the team "the best" in the competition on Monday. Russia last won a medal in hockey with bronze at the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002.
The immediate blame for the Russian defeat fell on goaltender Semyon Varlamov, who came to Sochi on the back of red-hot performances in the NHL but was at fault to some extent for each of the three Finnish goals.
Russia's tournament started with a solid but unspectacular 5-2 win over Slovenia, followed by a 3-2 shootout loss to the United States that many hailed as an instant classic. Problems followed with a 1-0 shootout win over a struggling Slovakian team in the final preliminary game.
In the first round of the playoffs, Russia was slow to break down Norway's determined team and worryingly passed 100 minutes without a goal, dating back to the US game, before finally scoring and heading to a 4-0 win.
The quarterfinal exit may cost the job of Russian coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov, who led Russia to the 2012 world championship title in his first major competition in charge, but also oversaw a pounding by the US in last year's world championship quarterfinals.
Medals, medals, medals
The final medal table was easy on the eye for Russian officials: Russia ended up on top with 13 golds, 11 silver and nine bronze. Norway was second with 11 golds, five silver and ten bronze; and Canada was third with 10 gold, 10 silver and five bronze.
The United States, Netherlands and Germany rounded out the top six.
The next Winter Games are in Pyongchang in 2018; with the next summer edition in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
Russian figure skaters Elena Ilinykh and Adelina Sotnikova at the closing ceremony of the Sochi Olympics
Last Edit: Jan 22, 2017 8:08:27 GMT -5 by TsarSamuil
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