AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev

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.”

Paralympic swimmer disqualified for Olympic rings tattoo

Josef Craig
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British Paralympic champion Josef Craig was disqualified from a race because he didn’t cover up an Olympic rings tattoo on his chest at the IPC European Championships on Sunday.

Craig, 19, was disqualified because of an International Paralympic Committee swimming rule that states, “body advertisements are not allowed in any way whatsoever (this includes tattoos and symbols).”

Craig, who did not have the tattoo when he took gold at London 2012, has since competed at the European Championships with the Olympic rings tattoo covered.

If people attend the Paralympics, which are held weeks after the Olympics at the same venues, they will very often see the Paralympic Agitos logo where the Olympic logo once appeared.

It is visual proof that the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee are separate entities.

At the London Paralympics, American Rudy Garcia-Tolson earned silver in a 200m individual medley with an Olympic rings tattoo visible near his left shoulder-blade.

An IPC spokesperson said the rule pertaining to the Paralympics — which covers all sports — was new going into 2012 and will be fully enforced for the first time in Rio.

MORE: London gymnastics medalist gets elaborate Olympic tattoo

Missy Franklin reads emotional letter to parents (video)

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Missy Franklin broke into tears reading a letter to her parents in a mock press conference in a spot for Minute Maid, one of the four-time Olympic champion’s sponsors since turning professional a year ago.

It was filmed in April near her home in Denver.

Franklin has split time training and competing and working with companies including GoPro, Laureus, Minute Maid, Speedo, United Airlines, Visa and Wheaties.

Franklin has said the sponsor commitments will curtail in the middle of May, when she starts a blackout period to focus on training for the U.S. Olympic Trials, which are June 26-July 3 in Omaha and air on NBC Sports.

VIDEO: Franklin revisits ‘biggest sacrifice’ in GoPro series finale