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Olympics: 6 things people are talking about

Shocking decisions, historic sweeps and serious injuries. Here’s what to know about the Olympics for Thursday:

Bobsled track worker has broken legs

An Olympic track worker struck by a bobsled broke both legs and may have a concussion, IOC officials said Thursday.

The worker was on the track when he was hit by a forerunning sled near the finish line at the Sanki Sliding Center, just before the start of Thursday’s two-man bobsled training.

“We still do not know why he was in this zone and exactly what happened,” IOC President Thomas Bach said in a visit to The Associated Press office in Sochi.

Bach added that the worker “maybe” has a concussion.

Sochi organizers said the unidentified man was taken by helicopter to a hospital, but gave no other information about his injuries. Officials said the crash took place just before the finish line, which would suggest that the sled likely had not yet started to brake.

“According to standard procedure, a warning signal was given ahead of the forerunners’ bob beginning its run on the track,” Sochi organizers said in a statement released more than three hours after the accident. “The reasons for the icemaker’s presence on the track after the warning signal are currently being determined.”

Plushenko retires after Olympic withdrawal

Evgeni Plushenko’s Olympics are over. His competitive career, too.

The Russian star retired Thursday just after he withdrew from the men’s event at the Sochi Olympics for medical reasons.

The 31-year-old Plushenko is the only modern-era figure skater to win medals in four Olympics. He helped Russia win the team gold over the weekend.

In warmups before the short program, he fell on a triple axel and said it felt “like a knife in my back.” He skated toward his coaches while bent over, then tried to loosen up by skating around the Iceberg rink some more.

He then attempted another axel and botched it, shook his head and consulted with coach Alexei Mishin. When Plushenko’s name was announced to the crowd seconds later – to loud applause – he skated to the event referee and withdrew.

U.S. rules Olympic slopestyle

For only the third time in Winter Games history, the United States swept the podium, capturing the top three spots Thursday in slopestyle skiing’s Olympic debut to revive the country’s showing in Sochi.

Joss Christensen, a 22-year-old making his first appearance on the Olympic stage, won the gold in a dominating performance that featured four near-perfect runs over the rails and jumps at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park. The last skier selected for the U.S. slopestyle team, Christensen posted the top two scores in both the qualifying runs and the finals.

Gus Kenworthy and Nick Goepper captured the silver and bronze, as the U.S. skiers matched the country’s previous sweeps in men’s figure skating in 1956 and men’s halfpipe snowboarding in 2002.

No pants

The hippest team at the Sochi Olympics was pictured in one of their country’s national newspapers posing – in the middle of the day and in the middle of the Olympic Park – with no pants on.

All the four curlers had on below the waist was a pair of boxer shorts, socks and trainers.

They were asked to pull the stunt to highlight a directive, laid down by the Norwegian Olympic Committee, which prevents the team from wearing its competition clothing outside the curling arena. When they aren’t curling, they have to wear attire sponsored by the Norway team’s official clothing supplier, Phenix.

One of the curlers, Thomas Ulsrud, says it was not a protest, just “a bit of fun.”

“A Norwegian newspaper wanted to take a picture of the four of us guys (in their pants) away from the curling,” he says. “We said we have some rules in the Olympics, so we aren’t allowed to do that. So they asked could they have a picture without pants.

Broken foot? No problem.

Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk won gold in the 10-kilometer cross-country ski race despite a fractured foot, finishing in 28 minutes, 17.8 seconds. She hurt the foot in January, making it unclear if she would live up to her status as an event favorite.

These are the Winter Olympics?

Temperatures in Sochi reached into the mid-60s on Thursday as the warm front on the beachside resort town continued. IOC spokesman Mark Adams says officials are “very relaxed” about the warm temperatures, which aren’t expected to cool until Saturday at the earliest. Russian officials say they have not needed to tap into their snow reserves on the mountain yet and all events are taking place on schedule.

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