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

Jim Craig: Minor changes, but no hesitation, in second ‘Miracle’ sale

Jim Craig
AP
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It has been 300 days since Jim Craig first announced he would sell a bundle of his “Miracle on Ice” memorabilia, including his gold medal, for $5.7 million.

They didn’t sell last year. So he took most of the items in the original bundle and is splitting them up in an auction that runs though June 17.

On Tuesday, Craig said he had no thoughts about keeping the most precious items in the 10 months in between sales.

“We wanted to sell an entire collection to a person that would have the financial means to be able to display it, hopefully that everybody would be able to come and enjoy it like they have the last 35 years,” Craig said. “It’s a lot better than being tucked in a closet.”

There are a few items from the original bundle that Craig decided not to auction this time around — a 1980 Sports Illustrated Sportsmen of the Year trophy, two watches that he gave to his kids and an Olympic ring.

VIDEO: Which Miracle item is toughest for Craig to sell?

Christie Rampone not at fitness level to compete for Olympic spot

Christie Rampone
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Christie Rampone, the 40-year-old captain of the 2015 U.S. Women’s World Cup team, has yet to return to full fitness after December knee surgery and pulled out of a U.S. camp ahead of two pre-Olympic friendlies in June.

Her bid for a fifth Olympics, and to become the oldest U.S. Olympic soccer player of all time, is in danger.

The camp begins Friday. The friendlies against rival Japan (which failed to qualify for Rio) are June 2 and June 5.

“I don’t feel 100 percent healthy enough to train and compete at that level,” Rampone said in a press release Tuesday. “I’ve been able to manage myself and contribute to Sky Blue [her club team] this season, which I will continue to do, but I also have an understanding of the level of fitness and health needed to push for an Olympic roster spot, and I know I’m not there right now. It’s not the right choice for myself or the team to put myself in that environment.”

Rampone, a defender, hasn’t played for the U.S. since her December arthroscopic knee surgery. At the 2015 Women’s World Cup, she played a total of 14 minutes.

The U.S. national team is currently without nine players from the 23-player World Cup team, though some are expected back for the Olympics, but only one of the missing other than Rampone is a defender (the retired Lori Chalupny).

The U.S. Olympic women’s soccer team for London was named in May 2012, but the Rio roster of 18 players is expected to be announced by early July.

VIDEO: Hope Solo ‘begrudgingly’ going to Rio Olympics