Vladimir Putin, Thomas Bach

Vladimir Putin: Sochi ‘almost ready’ for Olympics

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Vladimir Putin said the “overwhelming majority” of sites for the Sochi Olympics are “almost ready” and that a “final push” remains with a little more than 100 days before the Games.

The Russian president made the comments while opening a new railway station in Sochi with new International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach.

“Now that the overwhelming majority of sites are almost ready, there’s a final push left, we need to accomplish this final milestone,” Putin said, according to Reuters. “We need to prepare everything once and for all.”

Bach, 59, praised Russia’s record $50 billion preparations for the Olympics, which begin Feb. 6.

The German is familiar with the Black Sea resort. He was the chairman of the IOC evaluation commission for the city’s bid to host the 2002 Winter Games. Sochi did not make the cut of four finalists. Salt Lake City eventually won the right to host in a landslide.

Video: McKayla Maroney’s not impressed face from 2004

“We are fully confident that the Games will be on a magnificent level,” Bach said, according to Reuters.

“We are extremely grateful to you for the magnificent co-operation we developed in recent years. Sochi and the whole region completed a very big, successful development journey and we have been deeply impressed with this path,” he said in comments translated from German into Russian as he sat next to Putin, a fluent German speaker.

Putin also offered another assurance about Russia’s anti-gay law.

“We will do everything to make sure that athletes, fans and guests feel comfortable at the Olympic Games regardless of their ethnicity, race or sexual orientation,” Putin told Bach in remarks broadcast on Russian television, according to Agence France-Presse.

Bach also questioned Putin about the amount of snow for the Olympics, which has been a question. Organizers have stowed about 500,000 cubic meters of snow from this past winter in case of a shortage.

“And we’ll add more, we hope,” Putin said, according to R-Sport.

Photos: Olympic flame’s trip to North Pole

500 Days to Pyeongchang: Five athletes to watch

PARK CITY, UT - FEBRUARY 06:  Chloe Kim celebrates a first place finish in the ladies' FIS Snowboard World Cup at the 2016 U.S Snowboarding Park City Grand Prix on February 6, 2016 in Park City, Utah.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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Today marks 500 days until the Opening Ceremony of 2018 Winter Olympics.

Below are five U.S. athletes to get to know before February 9, 2018:

Ryan Bailey (Bobsled): Bailey, who finished fifth as a sprinter in the London Olympic 100m, is attempting to compete at the 2018 Olympics as a bobsledder. On Sept. 21, just weeks into his bobsled career, he won the men’s push athlete national title. The last male Summer Olympian to make a U.S. Olympic bobsled team was Willie Davenport in 1980.

MORE: Converted sprinter Ryan Bailey wins bobsled national title

Brittany Bowe and Heather Richardson (Speed Skating): Bowe and Richardson have been trading world records in recent years. Last November, Bowe broke her own women’s 1000m world record, only to have Richardson lower it just three minutes later. A week later, Bowe broke the world record in the event once again.

MORE: Dan Jansen explains recent flurry of world records

Meryl Davis and Charlie White (Figure Skating): The future is uncertain for Davis and White, who became the first U.S. couple to win an Olympic ice dance title in Sochi. They have not competed since the 2014 Olympics, but they have also not announced their retirement.

MORE: Where Meryl Davis, Charlie White stand on possible comeback

Chloe Kim (Snowboarding): Kim mathematically qualified for the 2014 U.S. Olympic team in halfpipe, but at 13, she was not old enough to be eligible to compete in Sochi. A U.S. woman has won gold in the event at three of the past four Olympics, but Kaitlyn Farrington, who won halfpipe gold in Sochi, retired after being diagnosed with a spinal condition.

MORE: Kaitlyn Farrington retires from snowboarding

Mikaela Shiffrin (Alpine Skiing): Shiffrin became the youngest Olympic slalom champion at the 2014 Games, when she was 18. Four years later, she is hoping to become the first Alpine skier — man or woman — to repeat as slalom gold medalist. She also could become the first U.S. women’s Alpine skier to win gold medals in multiple Olympics.

Michael Phelps warned Ryan Lochte to ‘Keep your head on straight’

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 09:  Gold medalist Townley Haas, Conor Dwyer, Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps of the United States celebrate during the medal presentation for the Men's 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay Final on Day 4 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium on August 9, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
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CHASKA, Minn. (AP) — Add Michael Phelps‘ name to the list of Americans who were less than amused by teammate Ryan Lochte’s post-competition, early morning drunken antics at the Rio Olympics.

“I did have a talk with him about two days before about not doing anything bad,” said Phelps, who retired after the Summer Games as the most-decorated Olympian of all time. “I told him, `Just keep your head on straight. Have fun.”‘

Apparently, the warning didn’t take.

Lochte and three teammates got into a scrape with a security at a gas station in Rio de Janeiro after a night of partying. He originally claimed he and young teammates Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and Jimmy Feigen were threatened and robbed at gunpoint but was later charged in Brazil with filing a false police report.

Lochte, 32, whose 12 medals and six golds make him the second-most decorated Olympic swimmer, was banned from competition for 10 months – including a chance to qualify for next summer’s world championships – by the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Swimming.

He also forfeited $100,000 in medal bonuses, was dropped from the Olympic team’s White House visit and was ordered to perform 20 hours of community service. His three teammates were given four-month bans and dropped from the White House visit.

Despite losing a number of sponsorship deals as well, Lochte hasn’t lowered his public profile. He’s competing this season on “Dancing With the Stars,” where two protestors rushed the stage during a taping of the show in Los Angeles two weeks ago. Lochte had just performed a foxtrot routine with professional partner Cheryl Burke to “Call Me Irresponsible” and appeared briefly shaken.

The two men were quickly tackled by security guards and face misdemeanor charges in Los Angeles. They later said their purpose was “to get the message out that Lochte is a coward, a liar and under Brazilian law, a criminal.”

Lochte posted on Instagram the day after the show aired, thanking “everyone on the show, including my partner Cheryl, my fellow competitors, the producers, the security team and its fans.”

#DWTS #family #dancingwiththestars

A photo posted by Ryanlochte (@ryanlochte) on

Phelps won five gold medals and a silver in Rio, bringing his career totals to 23 golds and 28 medals.

He was in Minnesota getting a behind-the-scenes look at Ryder Cup preparations ahead of this weekend’s matches. The avid golfer was scheduled to play in Tuesday’s celebrity tournament and is also making appearances on behalf of his sponsor, Omega.

MORE: Michael Phelps set to golf with Bill Murray