Russian fans showing support in Pyeongchang
Published 12:33 am Friday, February 9, 2018
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) — The Latest on the Pyeongchang Olympics (all times local):
Russian athletes at the Pyeongchang Olympics must wear neutral uniforms and compete under the Olympic flag, but their fans are making no secret of what country they’re from.
A large contingent is holding up signs saying “Russia In My Heart” in Russian during the figure skating team event. The same message is spelled out in their shirts in English.
Russian skater Mikhail Kolyada struggled in the men’s team short program, falling twice on quad jumps as he finished eighth.
The International Olympic Committee invited 168 athletes to compete, but they’re being called “Olympic Athletes from Russia.” If they win events, the Olympic flag will fly and the Olympic anthem will be played.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled that another 45 athletes and two coaches excluded over doping concerns can’t compete.
IOC president Thomas Bach has run his leg of the torch relay, receiving the Olympic flame from a local teenager who he invited to the opening ceremony later in the day.
Dressed in the official uniform and a thick winter coat, Bach tried to keep warm as he took selfies and exchanged pins with visitors as waited for the flame near the official IOC hotel.
After running in a short distance in light snow, he handed the flame to the President of the U.N. General Assembly Miroslav Lacjak. Bach says “It’s a great emotion. I have carried the flame seven times but it is always like the first time. This is a great emotion because the torch is a symbol of peace and tolerance.”
Bach predicted an “excellent Olympic Games,” saying “I wish these Games to be remembered as a great festival on a human scale.”
The lawyer for Russian doping whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov has renewed a call for IOC president Thomas Bach to resign.
After the Court of Arbitration for Sport rejected appeals from 45 excluded Russian athletes seeking to compete in Pyeongchang, Rodchenkov’s lawyer Jim Walden says “for the sake of the Olympic ideal, (Bach) needs to resign.”
Walden has accused the IOC and CAS of being “complicit in enabling Russian doping” for not implementing strong punishments for Russian athletes, including a blanket ban.
Friday’s verdict, he says, is “a small semblance of justice for clean athletes.”
Despite the 45 appeals being rejected, 168 Russians are due to compete in Pyeongchang as IOC-approved “Olympic Athletes from Russia” in neutral uniforms under the Olympic flag.
One U.S. athlete says she’s pleased to hear 45 Russians who were excluded from the Pyeongchang Olympics over doping concerns won’t be allowed to compete. Others say the drama has been a distraction.
U.S. skeleton veteran John Daly calls the saga that has dogged the Olympic movement for the past four years “absolutely ridiculous.” He says the Russians should not be allowed in and that what’s going on now is like something out of a movie.
U.S. women’s skeleton athlete Katie Uhlaender finished fourth in the Sochi Olympics, one spot behind bronze medalist Elena Nikitina of Russia, who was one of the 45 appealing to get into Pyeongchang. She says it’s great news that the Russians lost their appeals.
Nikitina, who was confident of winning her appeal, now will not race in Pyeongchang and possibly never again in an Olympics.
Shoma Uno skated a near-flawless short program, the only stumble coming on his opening jump, and scored 103.25 points to give Japan the lead in figure skating’s team competition.
Alexei Bychenko put together a clean program to place Israel in a surprising second place, while the rest of the big hitters in the men’s competition kept hitting the ice.
Patrick Chan of gold medal-favorite Canada fell on both of his quads but rallied in the back half of his program to take third. Nathan Chen of the U.S. was fourth after doubling a triple toeloop and quad toeloop and falling on his troublesome triple axel.
The event continues later Friday with the pairs short program.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport has ruled that 45 Russian athletes who were excluded from the Pyeongchang Olympics over doping concerns can’t compete.
They and two coaches wanted the court to overturn the International Olympic Committee’s decision not to invite them to the games, which open Friday.
The games will still include 168 Russians who have been invited as “Olympic Athletes from Russia,” competing in neutral uniforms under the Olympic flag.
Figure skating at the Pyeongchang Olympics is underway with the team competition, where 10 nations will send out men’s and pairs short programs at Gangneung Ice Arena.
Canada and the Olympic Athletes from Russia are considered the favorites for gold, with the U.S. a strong contender to land on the podium. Nathan Chen and his array of quads will skate the short program for the Americans while Alexa Scimeca-Knierim and Chris Knierim tackle the pairs program.
Teams are awarded points based on their finish in each discipline. The dance and ladies short programs are Sunday, when the field is trimmed to five nations. Each will then field a free skate program for each discipline, with medals decided Monday.
The highly politicized Pyeongchang Olympics are officially opening, but not without some last-minute drama as the Court of Arbitration for Sport is set to announce whether 45 excluded Russian athletes can compete.
The Russians had not received invites to the games from the International Olympic Committee, which said it couldn’t be sure they weren’t involved in Russian doping scandals.
Another 168 Russians have been invited as “Olympic Athletes from Russia,” competing in neutral uniforms under the Olympic flag.
The opening ceremony is Friday night, and figure skating training and qualifying competition in events including women’s moguls were underway in the morning.