Figure Skating - Winter Olympics Day 2

Sochi Olympic Daily Recap, Medal Count: Day 2

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Russia’s team of figure skaters are the toast of their nation after Day 2 of the 2014 Sochi Olympics. But there were plenty of other stars that shined brightly on Sunday.

We’ll start off at the Iceberg Skating Palace, which rocked with cheers after the Russians – powered by Yevgeny Plushenko and Yulia Lipnitskaya (pictured) – won the inaugural gold medal in the Olympic team figure skating competition. Team USA, led by Meryl Davis and Charlie White’s winning effort in the free dance, earned the bronze…

Attending that competition was Russian president Vladimir Putin, who cheered along with the rest of the crowd inside the Iceberg for their country. Meanwhile, Plushenko, still brash as ever, delivered a short and sweet message to his critics.

The gold was Russia’s first such medal in Sochi, while the U.S. added its second as Jamie Anderson won the women’s title in another new Olympic competition, snowboard slopestyle. The victory completed a U.S. sweep of the new discipline following Sage Kotsenburg’s Saturday triumph on the men’s side…

The slopestyle action took turns that were both humorous and scary. Anna Gasser of Austria had a comical, stumbling start to her first run, while Czech rider Sarka Pancochova took a nasty fall that split her helmet; thankfully, she got up and completed her trek down the course…

Alpine skiing got underway in Sochi with the men’s downhill. Bode Miller of the U.S. was looking like a gold medal contender after several great training days, but ultimately failed to hit the podium. While Miller struggled, Austria’s Matthias Mayer captured the gold ahead of a exuberant silver medalist in Italy’s Christof Innerhofer

MORE: Complete Team USA rundown from Day 2

Felix Loch of Germany won a second consecutive gold in men’s luge, while bronze medalist Armin Zoeggeler of Italy made history by becoming the first Olympian to win six consecutive medals in the same individual event. Finishing with the silver was Russia’s Albert Demtschenko, who earned his second overall Olympic medal…

Also grabbing golds today were Dutch speedskater Ireen Wust in the women’s 3000m, Slovakian biathlete Anastasiya Kuzmina in the women’s sprint, Swiss cross-country skier Dario Cologna in the men’s skiathlon, and Polish ski jumper Kamil Stoch in the men’s normal hill

After taking down Finland in their first contest with Jessie Vetter as goalie, the U.S. women’s hockey team announced that they will put Molly Schaus between the pipes for their next game against the Swiss…

Social media also continued to buzz around the Olympics. Boston Bruins star and Slovakia defenseman Zdeno Chara is becoming a legitimate photo op for his fellow OlympiansThe Twittersphere tried to cheer up Bode Miller after his tough day on the slopes…And the father of U.S. luger Tucker West has fueled the #TeamTucker movement after revealing on TODAY that his son was “very single” and “a little shy.”

MEDAL COUNT – Feb. 9
(Country – Gold/Silver/Bronze – Total Medals)
1. Norway – 2/1/4 – 7
2. Netherlands – 2/1/1 – 4
3. United States – 2/0/2 – 4
T-4. Canada – 1/2/1 – 4
T-4. Russia – 1/2/1 – 4
6. Austria – 1/1/0 – 2
T-7. Germany – 1/0/0 – 1
T-7. Poland – 1/0/0 – 1
T-7. Slovakia – 1/0/0 – 1
T-7. Switzerland – 1/0/0 – 1
11. Sweden – 0/2/0 – 2
T-12. Czech Republic – 0/1/1 – 2
T-12. Italy – 0/1/1 – 2
T-14. Finland – 0/1/0 – 1
T-14. Slovenia – 0/1/0 – 1
T-16. Great Britain – 0/0/1 – 1
T-16. Ukraine – 0/0/1 – 1

Russia track and field boss: ’50-60 percent’ chance of Olympics

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Russia’s new track and field federation president said he thinks his nation’s track and field athletes have “between 50 and 60 percent” of a chance of competing in the Rio Olympics, according to Reuters.

The IAAF is expected to rule June 17 whether Russia’s ban from international track and field competition will be lifted before the Rio Olympics.

Russia’s track and field athletes were banned indefinitely in November by the IAAF, after an independent World Anti-Doping Agency report alleged widespread doping issues.

Russia was given criteria to earn reinstatement, and Dmitry Shlyakhtin, elected new Russian track and field chief in January, believes the situation has improved.

“A mouse would not be able to slip past us now!” Shlyakhtin said, according to Reuters.

Russia has recently come under more scrutiny following reports of widespread winter sports doping leading up to the Sochi Olympics and cheating during those Winter Games to avoid positive drug tests.

MORE: Yelena Isinbayeva to sue if barred from Rio Olympics

Yelena Isinbayeva to sue if barred from Rio Olympics

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MOSCOW (AP) — Two-time Olympic pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva plans to file suit if Russia’s ban from global track and field competition remains in place and she is barred from competing at the games in Rio de Janeiro.

“It’s a direct violation of human rights, discrimination,” Isinbayeva said.

Russia’s athletics federation was suspended by the IAAF in November after a World Anti-Doping Agency commission report detailed systematic, state-sponsored doping. The IAAF is due to rule next month on whether to reinstate Russia ahead of the Rio Olympics in August.

“In the case of a negative ruling for us, I will personally go to an international court regarding human rights,” Isinbayeva said. “And I’m confident that I’ll win.”

Speaking from her home city of Volgograd in a Skype interview arranged by Russian track officials, Isinbayeva held up four forms documenting recent drug tests she had passed — proof enough, she said, that she should be allowed to compete in Rio.

“Of course I’m angry because of this helplessness. All I can do now is train,” she said, adding that young Russian athletes’ careers could be destroyed if they have to wait until 2020 to go to the Olympics. “Four years, it’s a long time. Many of them can be, how can you say, broken.”

Isinbayeva’s comments came as a key adviser to Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said that Russia’s government supports making doping a criminal offense.

Adviser Nataliya Zhelanova told reporters at the ministry that the government hopes to get the law on the statute books for 2017, targeting coaches and officials who encourage or coerce athletes to dope. Fines or prison sentences were possible, she said, though this could change during the legislative process.

“It’s quite a long procedure but now everyone understood that we are in crisis and we have to do quick steps to fix the situation,” Zhelanova said.

In December, the IAAF asked the Russian track federation to consider lobbying for distribution and trafficking of doping substances to be made a criminal offense.

The new head of the Russian track federation maintained Russia was on track to meet IAAF conditions for reinstatement, but admitted to The Associated Press that a notorious training center was still part of the country’s track and field system.

The IAAF last year demanded the federation “immediately suspend all cooperation” with race-walking coach Viktor Chegin‘s state-funded center in the city of Saransk, which has been linked to more than 25 doping cases.

While Chegin was later banned for life, several of his top athletes are still competing and would be Olympic medal contenders if Russia is reinstated.

“I don’t rule out that (athletes are) living and training there,” Russian track and field president Dmitry Shlyakhtin said in an interview with the AP, adding that dozens of coaches who were part of Chegin’s hierarchy remained part of the federation’s system.

“If we shut down the Chegin center as a key point, we can’t stop and we won’t stop 75 coaches who are clean and transparent,” Shlyakhtin said.

Shlyakhtin said those coaches were working with children, but documents from this year’s national championships show top Russian walkers continuing to work with coaches from the main Chegin center. Officially, the athletes now represent local clubs and sports schools in and around the city.

Former Olympic gold medalist Olga Kaniskina, who lost her 2012 Olympic silver medal because of a doping ban, won the Russian 20-kilometer title in February in the fastest time recorded in the world this season. Federation documents list her as being coached by three trainers from the Chegin center and officially representing a children’s sports school, even though she is 31 years old.

“Kaniskina has finished her ban. She’s completely rehabilitated,” Shlyakhtin said. “Western people who are caught doping are not outcasts (either).”

Sergei Kirdyapkin, who lost his Olympic gold medal from 2012 due to a doping ban, is listed as being coached by Chegin center coaches, as is national champion Sergei Bakulin, who was stripped of his 2011 world championship gold. Both recently returned from doping bans.

Ahead of next month’s IAAF vote, Shlyakhtin said he was confident that Russia had made a significant effort to reform.

He said “90 percent” of the conditions for reinstatement had been fulfilled, including extra testing for Russia’s national track team in recent months and a shakeup of senior management.

Shlyakhtin suggested political interference, rather than a lack of reforms, could keep Russia out of the Rio Games, saying that countries such as Ukraine, Belarus, India and “especially China” deserved similar scrutiny on doping. He hinted that international officials turned a blind eye to some violations.

“The brakes are put on a lot of issues and they go away. Let’s all play fair according to one set of rules,” he said.

MORE: Russia’s top swimmer has meldonium ban lifted