IOC chief: Keep politics out of Games
International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach accused world leaders Tuesday of using the Sochi Olympics as a political platform "on the backs of the athletes," and of snubbing the Games without even being invited.
Three days before the opening of Russia's first Winter Games, Bach used a hard-hitting speech to call out politicians for using the Olympics to make an "ostentatious gesture" serving their own agendas.
Without naming any individuals, Bach appeared to direct his comments at President Obama and European politicians who have taken stands against Russia's law banning gay "propaganda" among minors.
The Olympics, Bach said, should not be "used as a stage for political dissent or for trying to score points in internal or external political contests."
"Have the courage to address your disagreements in a peaceful, direct political dialogue and not on the backs of the athletes," he said at a ceremony attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Sock it to 'em
Some members of the U.S. hockey team heading to the Sochi Games this weekend will be carrying some high-tech gear that will be kept under wraps.
Socks. Very high-tech, performance socks.
During the last couple of years there has been a growing trend among NHL players trying to protect their lower legs from skate blades. Several manufacturers produce these high-tech socks using a variety of material - including Kevlar and copper - to save calf muscles, Achilles tendons, and a player's feet.
Detroit equipment manager Paul Boyer has many of his players wearing the socks, and among the Red Wings heading to Sochi are goalie Jimmy Howard playing for the Americans, Henrik Zetterberg with Sweden, and Pavel Datsyuk with the Russians.
"I've got guys jumping into them because of the safety factor," Boyer said.
Austrians get threat
The Austrian Olympic Committee received an anonymous letter containing a kidnap threat against Alpine skier Bernadette Schild and skeleton pilot Janine Flock during the Sochi Games.
The letter, written in German, was delivered Monday to the mailbox of its Vienna office, AOC general secretary Peter Mennel said Tuesday.
"We have immediately alerted the Federal Criminal Agency, which is investigating the case," Mennel said.
In another sign of the growing concern about head trauma in sports, the NHL and the U.S. ski team will each have at least one concussion expert at the Olympics.
Jeff Kutcher, a Michigan-based neurologist, will be in one of two hockey arenas and the on-hill physician for three events on the slopes in Russia.
U.S. ski team medical director Kyle Wilkens said Kutcher will be the association's first specialist evaluating and treating concussions during the Winter Olympics.
Kutcher also will evaluate the neurological health of about 150 NHL players from all 12 countries in the Olympics.
Martin Erat of the Washington Capitals will replace injured Vladimir Sobotka on the Czech team for the Sochi Olympics.
The 26-year-old Sobotka injured his left leg playing for the St. Louis Blues in a 3-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday. The Blues said he would not recover from the injury in time for the Olympic tournament.