At least one Russian women’s hockey player believes it would take something miraculous to beat the U.S. at the Sochi Olympics.
Alexandra Vafina, who helped Russia to bronze at this year’s World Championships, seems resigned to the fact the host nation has no shot at beating the world champion Americans if they play in February.
“We can’t allow ourselves to let in more than 10 goals,” she told Russian news agency R-Sport.
The U.S. women last played Russia in a major international tournament at the 2012 World Championships, where the Americans won 9-0. The U.S. played five games en route to gold at this year’s World Championships with their largest margin of victory being five goals. Four of their five games were against 2010 Olympic gold medalist Canada and bronze medalist Finland, though.
Canada beat Russia 8-1 in the semifinals of this year’s World Championships in Ottawa. The U.S. and Canada have won every World Championships gold and silver medal since the first event in 1990.
Russia upset Finland for the bronze in Ottawa, its second medal ever to go with a 2001 bronze.
Vafina said Russia’s goal is still to make the final at the Olympics, which only one other non-North American nation has done (Sweden in 2006). The U.S. and Russia are in separate groups in the women’s hockey tournament, meaning they could not play until the single-elimination round at the earliest.
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The Olympic Athletes from Russia triumphed in the no-NHL tournament where they were favored, winning the men’s hockey gold medal at a Winter Olympics where they couldn’t even be called Team Russia, use their colors or celebrate while listening to their anthem.
Kirill Kaprizov scored the game-winner as “Team Olympic Athlete From Russia” came back to beat underdog Germany 4-3 in overtime Sunday in an instant classic that saved a men’s tournament lacking buzz not only in South Korea but back in North America, where the NHL season went on during the games for the first time since 1994.
It’s the first Russian gold medal in hockey since 1992 in Albertville when the team also played under a neutral flag as the Community of Independent States. Russian flags — the team barred from using them by IOC sanctions for state-sponsored doping — hung behind the bench as the team awaited their gold medals.
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Constantly saying it doesn’t matter that they had to wear nondescript red and white uniforms that lacked the Russian Coat of Arms, players gave the Russians their second gold and 17th total medal of the Olympics.
Russian goal song “Those Were The Days” blared over the Gangneung Hockey Centre speakers as fans clad in red, white and blue and holding flags celebrated. They later sang the national anthem as the medal ceremony got under way.
Without the pressure of racking up points to land on the medal podium, the figure skating exhibition gala is a chance for the athletes to express themselves. There aren’t rules about jumping sequences, and instead, skaters can use props and silly concepts, if they want.
Figure skaters who win medals at the Olympics are typically among the invite list, plus up-and-coming skaters from the host country and other fan favorites.
Here are some of the best performances of the evening:
Ice dance bronze medalists Maia and Alex Shibutani reprised last season’s “That’s Life” short dance by Frank Sinatra featuring Jay-Z for this year’s exhibition.
Ladies’ gold medalist Alina Zagitova performed her “Priestess of Fire” exhibition, which included a fake candle prop glowing on the ice.
Watch performances from the figure skating gala by clicking here