Pavel Bure

Pavel Bure says Russia is ‘indisputable’ favorite for Olympic hockey gold

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The Russian Rocket put out some bulletin-board material for the rest of the Olympic men’s hockey field Wednesday.

“Every team has chances, but the fact that we are the favorites is indisputable,” two-time Olympian Pavel Bure said, according to R-Sport. “We’ll have a very strong team in Sochi with a great coaching staff and several world stars. And this team is capable of taking the trophy.”

The retired forward Bure, 42, won Olympic silver and bronze with Russia in 1998 and 2002. He was the general manager of the Russian team that took fourth in 2006. Russia lost in the quarterfinals in 2010. The nation hasn’t won gold in men’s hockey at the Olympics since the fall of the Soviet Union and the Unified Team’s triumph in 1992.

But home ice always helps, as Canada learned in 2010 on its way to gold.

The Olympic prediction service Infostrada has Russia winning men’s hockey gold, followed by Finland and the Czech Republic. It has neither Canada nor the U.S. winning men’s hockey medals. A North American nation hasn’t medaled at non-North American Olympics since the 1994 Lillehammer Games before the influx of NHL superstars in 1998.

Bure was just as impressive as an Olympian as he was for the Vancouver Canucks during his Hall of Fame career. He scored five goals in the 1998 semifinals before Russia was shut down by Czech goalie Dominik Hasek in the Nagano final. Bure tallied nine goals overall in the 1998 tournament.

Sochi Olympic curling schedule released

Photos: Final Five meet the President, First Lady

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 29:  U.S. first lady Michelle Obama(L) rests her elbow on the head of Olympian Simone Biles (2nd L) as President Barack Obama (R) speaks during an East Room event at the White House September 29, 2016 in Washington, DC. President Obama and the first lady welcome the 2016 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams to the White House to honor their participation and success in the Rio Olympic Games this year.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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The U.S. Olympic women’s gymnastics team spent extra time at the White House on Thursday after President Barack Obama delivered a speech to the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams.

Simone Biles, Laurie Hernandez, Madison Kocian and Aly Raisman did the splits with Obama, and even lifted vegetable dumbbells with First Lady Michelle Obama.

Gabby Douglas, who had her wisdom teeth removed earlier this week, did not attend the event.

MORE: Simone Biles discusses her future

Katherine Reutter ends early retirement

VANCOUVER, BC - FEBRUARY 26:  Katherine Reutter of the United States celebrates the silver medal in the Ladies 1000m Short Track Speed Skating Final on day 15 of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics at Pacific Coliseum on February 26, 2010 in Vancouver, Canada.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
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When Katherine Reutter retired in 2013 at the age of 24, she never thought she would return to the ice. Three hip surgeries and two major back injuries left the two-time Olympic short track speed skating medalist in constant pain.

But now Reutter is scheduled to compete this weekend at the U.S. Speedskating Short Track World Cup Qualifier at the Utah Olympic Oval.

“You wouldn’t expect somebody who has been as injured as I have to be back at their best,” Reutter said in a telephone interview from Utah. “I feel like I’m getting close.”

Reutter only started contemplating a comeback last November, after being inspired by attending a World Cup race as a member of the U.S. Speedskating Athlete Advisory Council.

She began a regimen of yoga twice a week and daily 30-minute walks when she returned to Milwaukee, where she was working as a coach for the Academy of Skating Excellence.

“I started off really, really slow,” she said. “I started to work out the amount that a normal person probably should.”

Pain free, Reutter began skating during the practices that she was coaching.

“I noticed the days I came home really happy were the days where I had skated,” she said.

Reutter only started to truly believe that she could return to skating competitively when she clocked times that she described as “pretty darn good” a training camp in Salt Lake City in May and June.

She has learned to listen to her body. After experiencing pain when she scheduled twice-daily workouts six days per week, she scaled back to four or five days per week.

“I don’t really have the option to overtrain like I used to,” she said.

Reutter’s goal this weekend is to earn a placement for the ISU World Cup, which begins Nov. 4-6 in Calgary. Eventually, she would like to compete at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

But Reutter would be happy just being, well, happy.

“I am trying to live life to its happiest every single day,” she said, “and speed skating allows me to do that.”

Reutter recently changed her Twitter bio to say “comeback queen.”

“So far I’m the only one who calls me that,” she said, laughing. “I suppose people could get on board eventually”

MORE: Five athletes to know before the 2018 Winter Olympics