Sochi earns rave reviews from figure skaters

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Whether it’s the views, the weather, or the facilities, figure skaters from around the world are singing the praises of Sochi after the first test event was held in the 2014 Olympic Park over the weekend.

“It’s a beautiful arena and the atmosphere here is just fantastic,” world champ Meryl Davis told Reuters. “We’ve been several times in Moscow but this is our first visit to Sochi. Everything feels great.”

“For us it’s a great privilege to be here so early,” added 2010 gold medalist Scott Moir. “The venue definitely has an Olympic feeling to it It reminds me a lot of the arena in Vancouver.”

Davis and her partner, Charlie White, won the first event held at Sochi’s Iceberg Palace – the Russian Grand Prix. The pair said they’re excited to return to Sochi in 14 months to try for the Olympic title that eluded them when they won silver in Vancouver.

Not everything is perfect of course. Traffic and empty arena seats seemed to plague the weekend’s event, but the President of the International Skating Union, Ottavio Cinquanta, wasn’t concerned. Those kinks are why Sochi will continue to regularly run test events leading up to the Games.

And the athletes weren’t bothered much, either.

“We’re seasoned competitors and we’ve been around many places, so if we’re stuck in traffic or the food is not that great, these things don’t bother us,” White concluded. “It doesn’t take our focus away from our main goal, which is to skate well.”

Decker scores twice, U.S. women’s hockey team beats Canada 5-2

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QUEBEC CITY (AP) — Brianna Decker scored twice to help the U.S. women’s hockey team open its pre-Olympic exhibition schedule with a 5-2 victory over Canada on Sunday.

Hilary Knight, Annie Pankowski and Alex Carpenter also scored for the Americans.

Meghan Agosta and Jillian Saulnier scored for Canada.

The teams will meet again Wednesday night in Boston. Canada has won four straight Olympic titles, and the U.S. has claimed seven of the last eight world championships.

World downhill champion Ilka Stuhec tears ACL

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Lindsey Vonn’s top rival for downhill gold is in danger of missing the upcoming Olympics.

Ilka Stuhec, a world champion Alpine skier from Slovenia, suffered a torn ACL after a practice crash in Austria this weekend.

Stuhec had become a strong medal favorite for PyeongChang after winning FIS World Cup titles in downhill and Alpine combined last season. She also won a gold medal in downhill at the 2017 World Championships, where Vonn placed third.

According to a post on the FIS website, surgery is set for this Wednesday, with more information to come after that. But preliminary reports suggest that she is likely to miss the Olympics.

“For now it looks like Ilka Stuhec will have to miss a large part or maybe the whole World Cup season, including the Winter Olympic Games in South Korea,” a spokesperson for Struhec told Reuters.

In a tweet, Struhec acknowledged that she would be sidelined “for a few months.”

The Olympics start in less than four months.